Something Wicked This Way Comes: Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear
In Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, it is suggested among several other themes in the novel that "Perfect Love casts out all fear." This quote taken from the Gospel of John illustrates the point that where there is unconditional love, and one loves and is loved in return, there is no fear. This can be believed, because when a person loves life and is content with what he or she has, there is no room for regret. Likewise, when one loves a person and is loved in return, there is trust in trust there is no doubt, and therefore there is no fear. In the novel, Mr Halloway conquers his fear through the love of his son and is eventually saved, whereas Miss Foley us ruined by her preoccupation with fear and failure to love.
Mr. Halloway's life is plagued by the constant thoughts of his ever nearing death. As he approaches his middle age, he feels that he has failed as a father to his son, William. Speaking to Will, he tells him, "(I am) always looking over your shoulder to see what's coming ahead instead of looking at you to see what's here." He fears that death is going to come to him and he would have missed out on his son's life as well as his own. Meanwhile, a carnival comes into Green Tree, Illinois, offering eternal youth while at the same time threatening with fear in the form of death. When Mr. Halloway is lost in the carnival's Mirror Maze, the mirrors show him aging and slowly dying as they "bled him lifeless (and) mouthed him dry." His will is weakened by that image and he is at the point of near surrender when his son cries out to him, proving his "perfect love" for him. "Oh, Dad, I don't care how old you are, ever...Oh Dad, I love you!" With those words, Halloway realizes that he is! not a failure and that despite his age and other flaws, Will has always loved him. With the power of this newfound love of his son, he is able to overcome his fear by destroying the reflections with the most powerful weapon against evil, the laugh. Focusing on living a content life rather than regretting the past, and learning to love rather than fearing that love, Mr. Halloway has cast out his fear with the perfect love.
Miss Foley, Jim Nightshade and Will's seventh grade teacher, is tormented by the same fear. She leads a lonely life full of regret and self pity over her lost youth. Although she is not an old woman, she feels that she, like Mr. Halloway, is getting closer to death. When the carnival fills her every thought with false hopes of regaining her lost youth, she is extremely tempted to take this offer, to "swim around with the carousel of summer." This temptation leads her to place her life in the hands of the circus freaks after all, there is no one else that she can trust. She soon consequentially realizes the magnitude of her mistake when she is changed into a helpless, lonely, lost, and scared little girl. This teaches her as well as Jim, Will and Mr. Halloway that "You can't get something for nothing." It also teaches the reader that in her failure to love life and to foster loving relationships with people so that she could be loved in return, she is alone and left with what! she has had all along- nothing but fear.
Bradbury, as well as the Gospel of John, bring up valuable ideas about love being vital to the casting out of fear and therefore attaining happiness. As quoted from The Little Prince, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly what is essential is invisible to the eye," ultimately one can see that love is truly "the vital cement," our shield from fear, and eventually the key to happiness.