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Rachel comes of age at her own expense and little influence from other characters in the play, however,in the film Rachel comes of age due to a heavy impact and influence from other on her. Rachel's maturing and tolerance developed for other ideologies is shown very well through Rachel's attitude toward Evolution and Cates deeds by the end of the play, her sense of fear which she tries to free herself and break through, and similarities to Gertrude's approach toward Claudius' actions in the play Hamlet .
Rachel's journey to critical thinking and maturing mentally begins when the trial challenges her to reconsider her ideology. The trial of Brett Cates challenges Rachel to step out of her comfort zone, think critically, and analyze different possibilities and beliefs. Consequently, Rachel begins to change her perspective of other people's opinions. After the trial, Rachel is talking to Bert and Henry Drummond; She shares her new abstract of thinking and viewing different situations. "This is your book, Bert. I've read it. All the way through. I don't understand it. What I do understand, I don't like. I don't want to think that men came from apes and monkeys. But I think that's beside the point" (Play 124). Rachel do admit that she doesn't understand On the Origin of Species , but it is clear that now she has a sense of tolerance for other perspectives and ideologies. This solid tolerance gained after a confusion-like state is very well explained by Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial developments. Erikson's theory states that there is a time in our lifetime which we go though a sense of self search, personal identity, and personal value evaluation.
"The fifth stage is identity vs. role confusion, and it occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years. During this stage, adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity, through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs and goals."
Erikson's theory explains why and how Rachel became self aware, reconsidered, and reevaluated her belief system and ideology which she was forced to believe by her father and the teaching system of 1950s. Rachel goes through a role confusion and tries to decide between identities that she can pursue. Ultimately, Rachel as a result of her mental experiments and the situation she is in, chooses to become an independent thinker, and leaves her father, one of the main contributors to her fundamentalistic ideology she had before. "I'll help you!" (Play 129), Rachel says to Cates, who taught his students to be critical thinkers and examine both thought-systems, evolution and religion critically.
Likewise, Rachel approaches her new system of thinking by the help of the fear she has; specifically, a sense of fear from her father. "... I wanted to run to my father, and have him tell me I was safe, that everything was alright. But I was always more frightened of him than I was of falling. It's the same way now." (Play 55). Fear can both be good and bad for a person. Sometimes it can be a motivator, though sometimes it can be a reason for not processing forward into the better. The sense of the fear Rachel has, eventually pushes her into breaking the imaginary bonds that are holding her back from being a critical thinker of situations and matters. She talks about her sense of fear in various parts of the play. This fear is seen in Rachel is like a tide of wave in an ocean that pushes the person back. Rachel fights with this sense of fear, tries to solve it within herself. Gradually, she frees herself, admitting her fear was holding her back "...I was always afraid of what I might think - so it seemed safer not to think at all. …" (Play 124).
Furthermore, Rachel's coming of age is very similar, in both the context and the way it happened to Gertrude in the play Hamlet . In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, Gertrude is unaware of who Claudius really is. She even at points stand against her own son, calling him mad not knowing she has mistaken the guilty person.
Alas, how is 't with you,
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