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True Friendship in Jumanji Movie Essay Example

Have you ever thought to yourself, if there is a definition to true friendship? I believe each and individual of us should have the chance to experience what true friendship really is. To me when I hear “True friendship” it always reminds me of a movie called Jumanji and my childhood best friend. 

A great example of true friendship would be the movie Jumanji. Jumanji is a movie that came out a couple of months ago, but still remains to be my number one favorite friendship movie. Not only do they entertain people with the movie, they also show what true friendship really is. With all the adventures they went through, they were by each other no matter what kind of game it was. Being there for each other during their happiest moments or when going through sad times is the biggest accomplishment for a true friendship. 

In my lifetime, I did have many friends but the one that lasted was the one that was always true. My best friend has always been there for me. When I was in the hospital due to my stomach surgery, barely any of my friends came to visit but the one that I always saw everyday for a week was my best friend. From cooking me food to making me laugh she never failed, even if the laugh was for a couple of hours it always meant the world to me. 

With all being said, there is a true definition to friendship. True friendship means that your best friend is there for you in your darkest moments and happiest moments. No matter who you are you’ll always need someone that understands you the most.

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Unbreakable Bonds: The Essence of True Friendship

True Friendship

In the beautifully complex tapestry of life, friendships form one of the most vibrant threads. Friendships, particularly those that transcend superficial interaction and delve into the realm of true, meaningful connections, leave lasting imprints on our lives. The essence of true friendship is a unique blend of shared experiences, unconditional support, and deep understanding, forging unbreakable bonds that enrich our existence. In this post, ‘Unbreakable Bonds: The Essence of True Friendship,’ we will explore the profound importance of these friendships and their lifelong impact.

True friendships are not a luxury; they are a necessity. They act as pillars of support when we need strength, sources of joy in times of happiness, and provide comfort during moments of sorrow. These relationships foster growth, empowering us to evolve and navigate life’s challenges with increased resilience. Understanding the importance of such bonds is essential as it allows us to cherish and cultivate these relationships more consciously.

Additionally, true friendships leave an indelible mark on our lives. The shared laughter, the silent understanding, the triumphs, and even the disagreements, all contribute to shaping our character and perspective. They enrich our lives, provide a sense of belonging, and enhance our overall wellbeing. As we delve further into this topic, we will uncover the various facets of genuine friendships and the remarkable influence they have on our journey through life.

Join us as we journey through the realms of friendship, appreciating its inherent value, and recognizing its role in shaping our life story.

What is True Friendship?

Friendship is a relationship universally celebrated, crossing cultural, geographic, and age boundaries. But not all friendships are created equal, and those that stand the test of time, weathering all storms, are what we define as ‘true’ friendships. True friendship is an emotional bond marked by mutual respect, understanding, and a shared sense of camaraderie. It’s a connection that enriches our lives and supports our growth, both personally and emotionally.

So, what distinguishes a true friend from a casual acquaintance? Certain qualities set these friendships apart, fostering bonds that remain unbroken, regardless of the challenges life throws their way. Let’s explore these qualities in more depth .

Genuine Support and Understanding

Being there for each other through thick and thin is a cornerstone of true friendship. Friends celebrate our triumphs, cheer us on when we’re striving for goals, and provide comfort during times of struggle. They are our champions in success and our solace in distress.

Empathy is a defining trait of true friendship. True friends have an innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others. They don’t merely sympathize; they empathize, putting themselves in our shoes and experiencing our emotions along with us. This profound understanding cultivates a bond of trust and mutual respect, making true friendship a sanctuary where we feel valued and heard.

Active listening is another key element. A true friend listens attentively, making an effort to understand our feelings and perspectives rather than merely waiting for their turn to speak. This kind of meaningful communication promotes deeper emotional connection and reinforces the bond of friendship.

Loyalty and Reliability

Loyalty and reliability are integral to the definition of true friendship. A loyal friend stands by our side, regardless of the circumstances, never wavering in their support. Their steadfastness acts as a beacon, providing us with a sense of stability and assurance that we’re not alone, no matter what.

Dependability is a trait synonymous with true friendship. Reliable friends keep their promises, stay true to their word, and are there when we need them the most. This trustworthiness builds a sense of security and trust in the relationship, further strengthening the bond.

Consistency is the glue that holds true friendships together. Friends may not be present physically at all times, but they remain a constant emotional presence, lending a sense of continuity and reliability to the relationship.

Acceptance and Authenticity

True friends accept us as we are, quirks, flaws, and all. They celebrate our strengths and help us navigate our weaknesses without judgement. This unconditional acceptance fosters a safe space where we can be our authentic selves without fear of criticism or rejection.

Being genuine and transparent is a hallmark of true friendship. Authentic friends are sincere, honest, and open, not afraid to show vulnerability or express emotions. Their genuineness resonates with us, fostering deeper connections.

A non-judgmental attitude is key in a true friendship. True friends respect our individuality and our right to make decisions, even when they disagree with them. They offer advice when needed but refrain from imposing their beliefs or values. This freedom to be ourselves without judgement further enhances the bond of true friendship.

True friendships, embodying these qualities, provide an enriching experience that transcends ordinary social interaction. These bonds illuminate our lives, offering a blend of companionship, support, and love that’s hard to find elsewhere. In the face of life’s inevitable changes, true friendships are the unchanging constants, the unbreakable bonds that stand strong amidst the chaos. As we navigate life’s journey, these friendships are our anchors, grounding us and reminding us of who we truly are.

The Power of True Friendship

True friendships carry immense power, influencing not only our daily interactions but also shaping our mental health , personal growth, and overall happiness. The influence of these unbreakable bonds permeates various aspects of our lives, reinforcing our resilience and contributing to a robust sense of well-being. Let’s explore the dynamic power of true friendships and their transformative impact.

Impacts on Mental Health and Well-being

True friendships provide a critical support system, particularly in terms of mental health. Friends act as sounding boards, providing empathy and understanding during times of stress , anxiety, or sadness. This emotional support can significantly alleviate mental health issues, promoting a sense of calm and stability.

Additionally, true friends can help us recognize when professional help may be needed, encouraging us to seek therapy or counseling when we may not recognize it ourselves. Thus, the role of true friendships is paramount in fostering a healthy, balanced mental state.

Nurturing Personal Growth and Development

Personal growth and development is another area where true friendships cast a significant influence. Friends challenge us, push us out of our comfort zones, and inspire us to reach new heights. By celebrating our successes and providing constructive criticism during failures, they foster an environment conducive to personal development.

Furthermore, friends provide diverse perspectives, enabling us to view situations from various angles and broaden our understanding of the world. This exposure to different viewpoints encourages intellectual growth, enhancing our problem-solving skills and ability to empathize with others.

Enhancing Overall Happiness and Resilience

True friendships contribute greatly to our overall happiness . Shared experiences, laughter, and memories create a rich tapestry of joy that enhances our lives. Moreover, the knowledge that we have a reliable support system in our corner boosts our confidence and self-esteem, leading to greater overall happiness.

Resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, is another attribute nurtured by true friendships. Friends provide emotional support during tough times, helping us cope with life’s challenges. Their presence fosters resilience, enabling us to navigate difficult situations with increased strength and positivity.

In conclusion, the power of true friendship is profound, significantly impacting our mental health, personal growth, happiness, and resilience. These unbreakable bonds, characterized by mutual respect, understanding, and support, are indeed a life-enhancing blessing, an essence of life worth cherishing.

Nurturing and Maintaining True Friendships

True friendships are akin to a flourishing garden; they require nurturing, maintenance, and a consistent investment of time and effort. These bonds, built on mutual respect and trust, are cultivated through effective communication and a shared commitment to the relationship. Let’s delve into the principles that underpin the nurturing and maintaining of true friendships.

Effective Communication and Open Dialogue

Clear, open communication forms the foundation of true friendships. It involves expressing feelings honestly, listening attentively, and maintaining an open dialogue about shared experiences and individual perspectives. Effective communication fosters understanding, strengthens the bond, and ensures that both parties feel valued and heard.

Cultivating Mutual Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are paramount in true friendships. These bonds thrive on mutual trust, built on sincerity, reliability, and confidentiality. Respect, on the other hand, acknowledges individuality, appreciates differences, and fosters a non-judgmental atmosphere. Cultivating these twin pillars strengthens friendship and enhances its longevity.

Investing Time and Effort in the Relationship

Friendships require an investment of time and effort to sustain and deepen the bond. This might involve regular communication, spending quality time together, and actively participating in each other’s lives. Such investments serve to strengthen the connection and reinforce the mutual commitment to the friendship.

Quality Over Quantity

Understanding the value of true friendships often means focusing on quality over quantity. A few deep, meaningful relationships can be more fulfilling and enriching than numerous superficial acquaintances. This involves cultivating deeper connections based on shared values, mutual understanding, and shared experiences.

Managing expectations is another key aspect of this principle. Recognizing that every friendship is unique and setting realistic expectations about the level of commitment, communication, and mutual support can prevent misunderstandings and foster healthier relationships.

Being a True Friend

The essence of true friendship lies in reciprocity. Being a true friend means reciprocating the support, understanding, and appreciation that we seek in our friends. It involves being present and available, not just in times of crisis, but also in everyday moments.

Supporting friends, celebrating their achievements, and showing appreciation for their presence in our lives can greatly enhance the bond. It sends a clear message of love and respect, strengthening the connection and reinforcing the value we place on the friendship.

In conclusion, nurturing and maintaining true friendships is a dynamic, ongoing process that involves open communication, mutual trust and respect, and a genuine investment of time and effort. The journey, while requiring commitment, is profoundly rewarding, resulting in bonds that enrich our lives and stand the test of time.

Recognizing Toxic Friendships

While true friendships offer enriching experiences and emotional support, it’s crucial to recognize when a friendship becomes toxic and detrimental to our well-being. Identifying red flags early on can help us take the necessary steps to address the situation and, if needed, sever the ties that are causing harm. Let’s discuss how to recognize toxic friendships, their impact on well-being, and when to consider letting go.

Identifying Red Flags

Toxic friendships often involve consistent patterns of negative behavior. Some red flags may include one-sided relationships, where the give-and-take is imbalanced; manipulation or control; incessant criticism or belittlement; betrayal of trust; or lack of respect for personal boundaries. These behaviors can gradually erode the foundation of a friendship and should not be ignored.

The Impact of Toxic Friendships on Well-being

Toxic friendships can significantly impact our mental and emotional well-being. They often breed negativity, causing stress, anxiety, and a decrease in self-esteem. Over time, these friendships can lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, or isolation, impacting our overall happiness and potentially causing long-term damage to our mental health.

Deciding When to Let Go

Letting go of a toxic friendship is a personal decision and often a challenging one. If a friendship consistently drains you, makes you feel bad about yourself, or affects your mental health negatively, it might be time to consider letting go.

It’s important to communicate your feelings first, providing the friend an opportunity to address and rectify the issues. However, if negative patterns persist despite communication and efforts to change, stepping away from the friendship might be the best course of action.

Remember, it’s essential to prioritize your mental and emotional health . While it can be painful to end a friendship, sometimes it’s the healthiest choice to make. Releasing toxic ties can open up space for more positive relationships and experiences, leading to enhanced well-being and personal growth.

In conclusion, recognizing toxic friendships is an integral aspect of nurturing healthy relationships . Being aware of the red flags and the negative impacts on well-being enables us to make informed decisions about when to let go, paving the way for more fulfilling, supportive, and enriching connections.

Celebrating True Friendship

True friendships, the unbreakable bonds that enrich our lives, are indeed worth celebrating. Expressing gratitude, creating shared memories, and marking milestones and achievements are some of the ways we can appreciate and honor these precious relationships. In this part, we’ll explore how to celebrate true friendships and foster deeper connections .

Expressing Gratitude

An important aspect of celebrating true friendship is expressing gratitude. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in acknowledging the love, support, and understanding that true friends offer. It can be a personal note, a heartfelt conversation, or even a token of appreciation. Expressing gratitude not only strengthens the bond but also reinforces the positive elements of the friendship.

Creating Meaningful Memories Together

Shared experiences and memories form the bedrock of true friendships. Whether it’s an adventure-filled trip, a quiet evening of heartfelt conversations, or a shared hobby or passion, these experiences create lasting memories. Investing time in creating these shared moments can greatly enhance the connection, adding depth and richness to the friendship.

Celebrating Milestones and Achievements

Recognizing and celebrating each other’s milestones and achievements is another significant way of honoring true friendships. Whether it’s a career advancement, a personal accomplishment, or even overcoming a challenging phase, celebrating these moments together conveys support, pride, and admiration.

Moreover, it emphasizes the shared journey and mutual growth, enhancing the sense of camaraderie and deepening the bond. Celebrating together also creates joyous memories, adding to the repository of shared experiences that characterize true friendships.

In conclusion, celebrating true friendship is an enriching experience that can significantly deepen the bond. It involves recognizing the value of the relationship, creating shared memories, and rejoicing in each other’s achievements. As we celebrate these unbreakable bonds, we enrich our own lives, fostering connections that offer support, understanding, and shared joy.

The journey through the varied facets of true friendship underlines the beauty and significance these relationships hold in our lives. These unbreakable bonds, formed on the foundations of mutual respect, understanding, and shared experiences, serve as anchors, providing us with support, joy, and a sense of belonging. As we conclude, let’s reflect on the ways to nurture and cherish these special connections that can last a lifetime.

The beauty of true friendship lies in its authenticity. It is a bond that transcends surface-level interactions, delving into a realm of deep understanding, mutual respect, and shared growth. Each true friendship in our life adds a unique flavor, enhancing our life experience with its individual dynamics.

However, like any meaningful relationship, these friendships need nurturing. Open communication, mutual respect, and consistent investment of time and effort are vital to maintaining these relationships. Celebrating shared memories and milestones, expressing gratitude, and being there for each other in times of need are ways to cherish these bonds.

Moreover, it’s essential to recognize when a friendship turns toxic and learn to let go when necessary, prioritizing our mental and emotional well-being. This balance of nurturing healthy relationships and acknowledging unhealthy ones is a crucial aspect of managing our social connections.

In a world that often emphasizes romantic and familial relationships, let’s not forget the profound impact of true friendships. These relationships, often forged by choice rather than obligation or blood ties, offer a unique blend of companionship, understanding, and shared growth. They are indeed unbreakable bonds that can last a lifetime, enriching our existence with their unwavering presence.

As we continue on our individual journeys, let’s carry forward the essence of true friendship, nurturing these relationships that not only offer companionship but also help shape our lives. May we always find joy in these unbreakable bonds and cherish the warmth, support, and understanding they bring into our lives.

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True Friendship Essay

500 words true friendship essay.

Friendship is an essential part of everyone’s lives. One cannot do without friends, we must have some friends to make life easier. However, lucky are those who get true friendship in life. It is not the same as friendship. True friendship is when the person stays by you through thick and thin. Through true friendship essay, we will look at what it means and its importance.

true friendship essay

Importance of True Friendship

Friendship has a significant value in our lives. It is responsible for teaching us a lot of unforgettable lessons. Some are even life-changing so we must cherish friendship. It is not common to find true friendship in life.

But when you do, make sure to hold on tightly to it. True friendship teaches us how to love others who are not our family. Ultimately, our friends also become our family. A true friendship makes life easy and gives us good times.

Thus, when the going gets tough, we depend on our friends for solace. Sometimes, it is not possible to share everything with family , that is where friends come in. We can share everything with them without the fear of being judged.

Moreover, true friendship also results in good memories. You spend time with friends and enjoy it to the fullest, later on, the same moments become beautiful memories. Only a true friendship will cheer on you and help you do better in life.

Through true friendship, we learn about loyalty and reliability. When you have a true friend by your side, nothing can stop you. Your confidence enhances and you become happier in life. Thus, it changes our life for the better and keeps us happy.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Maintaining True Friendship

While it is lucky to get true friendship in life, it is also important to maintain this friendship so that one does not lose out on it. A time comes when we separate from our true friends, but one shouldn’t let distance act as a barrier.

It is essential to keep in touch with your friends so they know you are there for them. Most importantly, we must give our friends the love and respect they deserve. It is essential to treat them nicely so they never forget their worth.

Further, we must also remain honest with our friends. If you do not offer them all this, your friendship may begin to fade. Thus, make sure to pour equal shares of love, respect and honesty.

Conclusion of True Friendship Essay

Thus, we must never rush to make friends. Remember, true friendship cannot be faked. It will need a good foundation. So, a true friendship accepts the person for who they are instead of changing them. A true friendship will never have an ulterior motive, it will always offer selflessly.

FAQ on True Friendship Essay

Question 1: What are the signs of true friendship?

Answer 1: The signs of a true friendship are that they will accept you for who you are instead of trying to change you. Similarly, they will be there for you in good and bad times. They will celebrate your achievements and push you to do better if you fail. Most importantly, they will tell you the truth even if you don’t like it.

Question 2: Who is a true friend?

Answer 2: A true friend is someone who is always completely honest. Moreover, even if we don’t talk to them every day, we know they will be there for us. Thus, silence never gets awkward with them. We may not talk to them or see them for a long time, but when we meet them, it will be like old times.

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GUEST ESSAY: Exploring the wonders of the movie 'Wonder'

Joel Freedman

I recently viewed the movie (2017) “Wonder” when it was shown on the Disney Channel. It is a wonderful movie about the true meaning of friendships, about the tragedy of childhood and adolescent bullying, about the rewards of judging people by their inner qualities rather than by their physical appearances, about the healing powers of forgiveness and redemption. It is a movie that should be viewed and discussed with youngsters at schools, at homes, and at places of worship. While “Wonder” is not a true story the film reveals some important truths. It is based on the 2012 novel of the same title as the movie, authored by R.J. Palacio, who was inspired to write “Wonder” when she witnessed her 3-year-old son crying after he saw a child with facial deformities.

The movie’s plot centers around Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), who has a rare medical facial deformity, associated with Treacher Collins Syndrome. Auggie’s facial bones are underdeveloped, his ears are deformed, and he has undergone 27 different surgeries in order to hear, see, smell and speak.

After several years of homeschooling, Auggie’s parents, Nate and Isabel Pullman (played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts), enroll Auggie in a fifth-grade class at an elementary school.

Initially, Auggie is ostracized and ridiculed by other children but he does become friends with Jack, a popular student and athlete. For Halloween, Auggie attends school in a costume. When he enters his class unrecognized, Auggie overhears Jack (Noah Jupe) join four other children who are ridiculing Auggie. Auggie hears his supposed best friend say he would commit suicide if he had a face like Auggie’s face.

In the movie, Auggie’s older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) has also been hurt because her best friend Miranda has stopped being a friend. Miranda prefers to hang out with the more popular girls.

I don’t want to give away too much of what happens in the movie, but I will reveal that Jack will regret the hurt he caused Auggie, while Miranda will likewise feel badly about her loss of friendship with Via. Jack and Miranda want to make amends and the way they do this will tug at your heartstrings. So will the love and devotion that characterizes the inter-relationships in the Pullman family — that includes their beloved dog Daisy —and the devotion of Mr. Tushman, the school’s principal (Mandy Patinkin) and the teachers, especially the English teacher Mr. Browne (Daveed Diggs), to the well-being of all their students and to the school’s zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying. The way the movie ends is unforgettable.

Mr. Browne advises the children to “be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. And if you really want to see what people are, all you have to do is look” at their character traits rather than their physical features. This is a lesson that needs to be taught by parents at home as well as at all schools. Another important lesson conveyed in the movie: A measure of individual greatness is the ability and willingness of a person to bring out the best in others by the strength of one’s own decency and kindness. Auggie learns he can’t change his facial features, but he can – and he does – change the way others see him.

Jack initially became Auggie’s friend “only because my mom asked me to be nice to him.” But as Jack comes to the realization that Auggie “is smart, he’s actually very funny, he’s really a good person,” Jack will go to great lengths to re-establish Auggie’s trust and friendship. As for Miranda, she, too, will grasp the fact that Via “was a real friend and real friends are hard to find.”

Auggie’s mother assures Auggie, “You are not ugly and anyone who cares to know you will know that.” The truth of his mother’s words becomes apparent to Auggie as his status from being the least popular student in the school gradually changes to becoming the most popular student in the school.

This change in his popularity status is, in my opinion, less important than the changes in Auggie’s self-perception. Because each of us lives with ourselves all the time, self-friendship and self-respect matter more than the friendship and respect we receive from others. When Auggie learns to respect himself as the decent, worthwhile person he is, that is when his transformative experiences will have the most profound and positive impact on his overall life journey.

And that is why the movie “Wonder” is much more than a movie for young people. It is a movie for all of us, a movie that provides good insights into some of the best ways to have a meaningful life – in which we strive to respect ourselves and to respect other people, and other sentient beings – which is made apparent by the importance of Daisy, the Pullman family’s dog, in the film.

“Wonder” will be televised at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, on TBS.

Joel Freedman, of Canandaigua, is a frequent Messenger Post contributor.


Essay on True Friendship

Students are often asked to write an essay on True Friendship in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on True Friendship


True friendship is a precious bond shared between individuals. It is a relationship built on trust, respect, and mutual affection. Friends are always there to support and encourage each other.

Qualities of True Friendship

In a true friendship, friends are honest with each other. They share joys, sorrows, and secrets without fear of judgment. They respect each other’s differences and celebrate their similarities.

The Value of True Friendship

True friendship enriches our lives. It provides a sense of belonging and emotional security. It helps us grow as individuals and learn important life lessons.

In conclusion, true friendship is a priceless treasure that should be cherished and nurtured. It is a source of joy, support, and personal growth.

Also check:

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250 Words Essay on True Friendship

The essence of true friendship.

True friendship is a profound human connection characterized by mutual respect, understanding, and unconditional support. It transcends superficial interactions, as it is rooted in shared experiences, empathy, and a genuine desire for the other’s wellbeing.

The Pillars of Friendship

The pillars of true friendship are trust, honesty, and loyalty. Trust is the bedrock, allowing friends to confide in each other without fear of judgment or betrayal. Honesty, on the other hand, ensures transparency, even when the truth is hard to bear. Loyalty solidifies the bond, ensuring that friends stand by each other in times of adversity.

Friendship and Personal Growth

True friendship fosters personal growth. Friends challenge each other, encourage personal development, and stimulate intellectual growth. They serve as mirrors, reflecting our strengths and weaknesses, thereby helping us understand ourselves better.

The Test of Time

The test of time is a definitive measure of true friendship. As life evolves, circumstances change, and people grow, only those friendships that adapt and grow with these changes stand the test of time. They are not threatened by distance or time apart; instead, they are strengthened by these challenges.

In conclusion, true friendship is a unique bond that enriches our lives. It is a testament to the human capacity for empathy, understanding, and unconditional love. The value of such a relationship is immeasurable, making it one of life’s most cherished treasures.

500 Words Essay on True Friendship

A true friendship is a connection that transcends the boundaries of self, creating a bond that is both profound and essential. It is a relationship that is not based on any superficiality but on mutual respect, understanding, and shared values. This essay delves into the essence of true friendship, its importance, and how it shapes our lives.

True friendship is not merely about spending time together or enjoying shared interests. It’s about a deep emotional connection, a sense of trust, and mutual respect. It’s about being there for each other, in good times and bad, without any expectations or judgments. It’s about understanding each other’s silences as much as words, and valuing each other’s individuality while fostering growth.

The Importance of True Friendship

True friendship plays a vital role in shaping our lives. It provides emotional support, helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs. It fosters personal growth by challenging our perspectives, encouraging us to step out of our comfort zones, and promoting self-improvement. Moreover, a true friend can be a mirror, reflecting our strengths and weaknesses without any bias, thus helping us grow as individuals.

True Friendship and Personal Growth

The value of true friendship in personal growth cannot be overstated. A true friend acts as a sounding board for our thoughts and ideas, providing constructive feedback and offering different perspectives. They push us to be better versions of ourselves, not by imposing their views, but by encouraging us to introspect and evolve. They celebrate our successes and help us learn from our failures, thus playing an instrumental role in our personal development.

The Challenges of True Friendship

Despite its manifold benefits, true friendship requires effort and commitment. It necessitates open communication, understanding, and empathy. It demands the ability to forgive, to compromise, and to accept each other’s flaws. The challenges of maintaining a true friendship can be daunting, but the rewards it brings are invaluable.

In conclusion, true friendship is a priceless treasure that enriches our lives in myriad ways. It is a bond that nurtures our emotional wellbeing, promotes personal growth, and adds meaning to our lives. While it does pose challenges, the effort invested in cultivating and maintaining a true friendship is well worth the rewards it yields. True friendship, thus, is not just about companionship; it’s about growing together, learning together, and building a bond that stands the test of time.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Gus Cooney

The Evolution of True Friendship

Some interesting implications of our evolved friendship detectors..

Posted September 12, 2017

St. Thomas Aquinas famously mused, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship .” I recently came across this quote, and it seemed like an easy statement to agree with. But the more I thought about true friendship , the less I felt like I understood.

So I did what any scholar of human nature would do and continued to scroll through quotes on the internet. One idea kept popping up: true friends are around when times are tough. “Friends show their love in times of trouble and not happiness ,” wrote Greek philosopher Euripides. “A real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out,” quipped radio host Walter Winchel. And I even found this gem, attributed to the sometimes brilliant Justin Bieber: “friends are the best to turn to when you’re having a rough day.”

I went bleary-eyed reading pages of quotes like these, which usually means that the nugget of wisdom isn’t a particularly deep insight into human behavior. Of course we want our friends to be around when times are tough. That’s what friends are for! But why ? Why do we place such emphasis on our friends being there during tough times? This seemingly simple question is actually part of a deep evolutionary puzzle.

The puzzle starts with acknowledging that friendships exist because two people can benefit from the relationship. It makes us uncomfortable to think of our friends in these terms, as people who can benefit us (e.g., “ my friendships aren’t about what I get in return”). But let’s be honest, if you aren’t getting some benefit from your friends, you should probably get some new friends.

The real problem with the quid-pro-quo of friendship isn’t that it’s distasteful, it’s that it sets up a nasty paradox: we most need our friends’ help when we are least likely to repay them. In other words, when we are, sick, sad, or broke—that’s when we really need our friends—but being in such a sorry state means that we’re least capable of returning the favor. This creates the unfortunate incentive for our friends to abandon us when our need is greatest. And this happens. We call them fair-weather friends: people who disappear when we get sick, depressed , or lose our jobs, and then reappear when we’re back to normal. But as horrible as fair-weather friendship seems, from an evolutionary perspective, the real question is: Why aren’t all friends fair-weather friends? This is exactly how it works among other animals; a deer running from a predator doesn’t double back to help a friend. So what’s so different about human friendship?

The solution to the paradox, of course, is that true friends don’t abandon us in times of need because they know that when we return to health, happiness, or gainful employment, we will repay them the favor. This is a valuable arrangement to have, but the important thing to recognize is that true friendship wasn’t inevitable. It could have been otherwise, and a number of key pieces of human psychology had to evolve before true friendship could exist in its current form. Specifically, the biggest thing our species needed was a way to separate fair-weather friends from true friends. How do we do this?

In the same way that our eyes evolved to be sensitive to salient cues in our environment, our friendship detectors have evolved to be particularly sensitive to salient cues about whether our friends will abandon us in times of need. This isn’t to say that our friendship detectors only focus on being abandoned in tough times; we choose our friends based on many different characteristics, like who devotes the most time to us, who adds the most happiness to our lives, and who is the kindest, the funniest, or the best looking. But the point is that there was intense evolutionary pressure not to be abandoned in tough times, and this has a profound effect on how human friendship works.

Here are three of the most interesting consequences of our evolved friendship detectors:

1. Indebted to Those Who Help Us in Times of Need. The most obvious consequence is that we feel indebted to those who help us during tough times. We know this, of course, but consider how extreme we are in this regard. We all know people who are in friendships that are otherwise not very healthy, but they remain in them because said friend helped them at some critical juncture (e.g., “Liz was there for me when on one else was.”). We can also do hundreds of nice things for a happy friend, but all is forgotten when we drop the ball on a sad friend. This behavior only makes sense if we recognize that our friendship detectors are especially tuned to make sure we’re not abandoned at the worst possible time. In sum—for better and for worse—the strength of our friendships is often less about the total amount of happiness we add to our friends’ lives, and more about whether we were there for them in specific times of need.

2. Seeking Friends Who Think We Are Unique. Have you ever noticed how our friends really appreciate the skills we have but they do not (e.g., “Gertrude is so great, she’s such an amazing DJ, our parties would suck without her,” “Greg does such an awesome job planning our vacations—what would we do without him?” etc.). At first, it seems obvious why our friends would notice our unique traits—they are right there on display for anyone to see—but the hidden evolutionary logic of our friendship detector suggests another reason: perhaps we choose our friends in the first place based on who is most likely to appreciate our uniqueness. Why? This is exactly the strategy one would adopt to minimize the risk that our friends would ditch us in times of need. If we pick friends who value our unique traits, then we are hard to replace (or so they think), and so our friends are more likely to be there for us when it counts. In sum, no friendship is unconditional and when it comes time to ask for help, it’s better to be irreplaceable, and so we evolved to make friends with people who view us as unique.

3. The Difficulty of Modern Friendships. This implication is more speculative, but the nature of our friendship detectors might also help explain why so many people find it difficult to form close friendships. We are all living longer, healthier, and safer lives than at any time in recorded history, and this is a good thing, but it also means that many of our friendships have never been tested. Indeed, to know who really has your back, there needs to be some diagnostic event that separates true friends from fair-weather friends. We’ve all struggled at points in our lives, but modern friendships more often involve going to the mall than summiting Everest, exploring a harsh new frontier, or going to war. In sum, it takes a watershed event to separate true friends from fair weather friends, but these events are rare and so many of our friendships remain in true friendship limbo.

true friendship only happens in the movies essay

It might seem odd to take an evolutionary perspective on a question like true friendship. After all, friendships are a matter of personal taste, they change over the lifespan, and vary across cultures. But if there is one enduring truth about friendship, it’s that we want our friends to be there in times of need. This seems obvious to us, but it’s interesting to think that it could have been otherwise. It could have been that we judge our friends by who spends the most time with us, or who brings joy to our lives most often. Or it could have been that all friendships were fair-weather friendships that we ended as soon as we stopped getting proportional returns.

But our model of friendship is different. We give our friends our bottom dollar, put our lives on hold to visit when they are sick, and forget our own problems to help them with theirs. And because this is how friendship works, it has a number of consequences, including making us constantly on alert for possible signals of abandonment in times of need, motivating us to make friends with those who value our unique traits, and sometimes feeling uncertain about who are true friends really are. All this is part of the hidden evolutionary logic of true friendship.

Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (1996). Friendship and the Banker’s Paradox: Other pathways to the evolution of adaptations for altruism. In W. G. Runciman, J. Maynard Smith, & R. I. M. Dunbar (Eds.), Evolution of Social Behaviour Patterns in Primates and Man. Proceedings of the British Academy, 88, 119-143.

Gus Cooney

Gus Cooney is a social psychologist at Harvard University who researches social interaction, decision-making, and happiness.

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6 Lessons Of Friendship & Loneliness From The Classic Film ‘Stand By Me’

Being a good friend matters, especially when someone is lonely..

By Sandra E. Cohen, PhD — Written on Aug 22, 2020

lessons of friendship and loneliness from stand by me

We all need friends like Gordie and Chris in Rob Reiner's 1986 classic film  Stand By Me , especially in recent times when loneliness seems to prevail.

When fears of COVID-19 layer on top of old traumas, worries, and sadness, they can prey upon you like the gang of teenage bullies in the film. They won’t leave you alone until you find a way to safely feel and face them.

In a world that seems like an unending place of sorrow where it’s hard to see a way out, having a strong friendship helps.

RELATED:  10 Signs You Have A Truly Genuine Friendship

A good friend reminds you that there's someone who stands by you, emotionally, because at this time, most of us have to say, "Don't stand by me! At least, not closer than six feet."

And that's lonely.

The Stand By Me movie opens in Castle Rock, Oregon in the summer of 1959. Four middle school-aged friends budding into adolescence are on a mission — they are searching for a body of dead boy their age that's missing somewhere in the woods.

Each boy — Gordie Lachance ( Wil Wheaton ), Chris Chambers ( River Phoenix ), Teddy Duchamp ( Corey Feldman ), and Vern Tessio ( Jerry O’Connel l) — has their own reason for going on this search — complicated reasons, which unfold on their two-day journey.

Among them, it's Gordie and Chris’s friendship — with raw homelife traumas and their rare love and compassion for each other — that partly heals them.

Both boys live with different forms of childhood grief, pain, and scars that make it hard to get free.

Here are 6 lessons on friendship and loneliness you can learn from Stand By Me .

1. friends share in your loneliness..

Four months earlier, Gordie's brother Denny was killed in a Jeep accident. His mother, numbed and staring into the space that Denny left, doesn't hear him. His dad, who never appreciated him, is angry all the time.

And, Gordie hasn’t cried yet. He can’t. He loved Denny, who was the only one who saw and cared about him. He just can’t let himself feel how lonely it is without him. He’s got his friends, but it’s not the same.

Meanwhile, Chris hides his sensitivity just like Gordie hides his grief. He doesn't think anyone would get it, and the bullies call him weak for it.

This is where friendship with someone who truly understands is a welcome respite.

Even though they’re different boys from different backgrounds, neither Gordie nor Chris have parents that care. Chris’s older brother is his arch-enemy and bully. Gordie’s brother is gone.

Neither boy believes he’s any good at all, which is not a good place to live. Those kinds of feelings can take you down.

Gordie and Chris need to see a dead body to awaken feelings they try to keep dead. They know it, in some ways. And if they don’t face their grief , they’ll continue to suffer its effects.

2. Friends can stand up to the bullies everywhere and in your head.

Bullies are real. They exist in your family, your neighborhood, and in your own head.

We see it in both Gordie and Chris. Gordie is a kid whose dad and mom doted on Denny and his football. They didn’t care about Gordie’s stories and writing talent.

Denny did, but he's gone. Chris takes Denny’s place and encourages Gordie’s storytelling at the campfire.

But, when you think you don’t deserve to live, it’s hard to take it in. That’s Gordie’s nightmare: That he should’ve been the one to die. In his dream, that’s what his dad yells.

How do you live with that? It turns into a voice in your head that won’t leave you alone.

Yes, there are bullies everywhere — bullies to be conquered.

You can take a gun along that helps when there’s a knife pointed at you. A gun gives you power when you’re not supposed to be scared, so you can fight against the feeling that there’s no way of getting out.

But the truth is that there’s more power in a friend, someone who will stand by you, be there for all your feelings, and share your grief. They will help you stand up to that bully in your head.

Yes, Gordie and Chris do that for each other. They see what others can’t see.

Chris sees the bully in Gordie’s head, but not so much the one on his own. The problem is that Chris believes it and is quite sure his bullies are right. Those voices say that he’s not smart enough to find a way out.

Gordie doesn’t think so at all. He’s the kind of friend to Chris that Chris is to him. And, later, Gordie helps save Chris from Ace’s knife, backing him up with a .45.

Both Chris and Gordie need each other’s help more than anything. Otherwise, life would be so much harder and so much sadder.

3. Friends' love helps.

Being alone is the worst. It feels like a prison cell of isolation. Sadness closes in like an oncoming train. You can try to run from it, but you can’t get off its track.

Not easily, that is. There’s always something to remind you.

That’s what happens to Gordie. He keeps flashing back to memories of life with Denny before Denny was suddenly gone.

The journey to find the dead body is the journey to waking up from his numbness. But first, he trudges along, with his head hung down as dead as that dead kid, heavy with shame he can’t easily shrug off.

Those bullies who stole his brother’s hat? They’re inside his mind, making him feel as small as his dad does.

This journey is to give him the courage to stand up to them, to know that he has a friend to back him up, and that’s it’s really OK to cry.

And that night out in the woods, while they try to find the dead body before anyone else does, they hear howling. They take turns standing watch with the gun, thinking that the howling is a ghost.

But is it, really?

No. What’s out there, howling, are the ghosts of grief — old grief (having no dad), new grief (the loss of a brother), and those voices in your head that you have to live with every day.

What do you do with all that grief? You can’t fight it off with a gun.

RELATED: The 10 Types Of Friends You Need In Your Life

4. Friends grieve with you.

A friend is better than a gun, because we all need someone to know what we feel. Grief eats away at you if you hold it inside, with no one to hear and no one asking how you are.

So, you bury it, as Gordie does. You have to go numb because the feelings are too much when you don’t have a mom or a dad to help.

Sometimes, it’s hard even to know what you feel. But, just maybe, there’s someone who sees and knows before you do and offers you a hand.

That’s the way it is with Gordie and Chris. That’s what a friend is for. Friendship matters. Otherwise, you’re lost. And, your feelings stay shut down.

Gordie and Chris feel, on that night of the ghosts, howling. Gordie has the nightmare of his brother’s funeral, his dad putting a hand on his shoulder, saying, "It should’ve been you, Gordon."

While he's moaning and thrashing in his sleep, Chris sits beside him and wakes him.

5. Friends cry with you.

No one sees Chris. He has to be tough and cover up the sensitive boy he’s afraid to be. Gordie sees what his friend is capable of when no one else does, not even Chris himself.

But, right there beside him, while Chris sobs, is Gordie. It’s not weak to cry.

When Gordie finally sees the dead body, it’s a shock, as he's reminded of Denny's death. He sobs, just like Chris sobbed.

And, now, Chris is there, holding him — a rare friend who gets it. He knows Gordie’s sad loneliness as his own. They both reach out and reach in — listening, caring, and seeing the truth.

They know each other well.

A friend that really sees you matters, and there’s nothing better. A friend is what you need to stand up to the bullies who tell you that you can't do anything. But, you can.

6. Friends reach out.

Chris was Chris. He cared and stood up for people, even strangers. Stand By Me is Chris’s story and Gordie writes it, remembering Chris.

Gordie became the writer that Chris told him he would be. They both got away — from those bullies in their heads and not being good enough.

And, even though they hadn’t seen each other in 10 years, Gordie ends the film by saying, "I know I’ll miss him forever. I never had any friends later like I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?"

Chris and Gordie were special friends. They were unusual kids because they had empathy .

They didn’t let each other go numb. They knew loneliness. And, because they cared, they were able to reach each other’s tears and make them OK.

Crying helps, as much as a friend could, especially if that friend has his arm around you.

Social distancing due to COVID-19 may mean no hugging for a while. But, virtual hugs and a voice on the phone are really good, too. In fact, they make all the difference.

They say, "I hear your loneliness. How are you? Let’s talk. Cry if you need to, I’m here."

It’s a reminder that someone is there to stand by you, that loneliness and fear will end.

RELATED: How To Be A Good Friend & Create Friendships With An Unbreakable Bond

Dr. Sandra Cohen is a Los Angeles-based psychologist and psychoanalyst, who specializes in treating persistent depressive states and childhood trauma. Contact her if you have any questions about finding the right therapist for you.

This article was originally published at Sandra E. Cohen, Ph.D.'s blog, Characters On The Couch . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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17 Movies About the Many Layers of Friendship

Cuddle up with your bestie and enjoy!

17 movies about the many layers of friendship

With that, it’s no surprise that movies have often tried to capture just what makes friendships so special. From dramatic tearjerkers to raunchy comedies to animated films, the big screen is a wonderful medium to dissect this most crucial connection between two (or three, four, or more) people. Here are 17 films that do just that. So, cuddle up with a friend and enjoy!

The Best Man (1999)

Streaming on hulu.

Personally, I think this is about the worst group of friends ever, who are probably all better off just calling it quits. But this movie is so classic and so funny that you just can’t miss it. Life is good for Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs). He has a great girlfriend, he’s about to publish a guaranteed best-selling novel, and he just got invited to be the best man at his college friend turned NFL star Lance’s (Morris Chestnut) wedding to his other college friend, Mia. There’s just one problem. Harper’s current girlfriend is facing competition from his ex Jordan, and Jordan has just read an advance copy of the book, which contains secrets about Harper, Lance, and Mia that threaten to ruin the entire wedding.

Spirited Away (2001)

Streaming on hbo max.

In this animated Japanese film, after magic turns 10-year-old Chihiro’s parents into pigs, she meets a new friend, a boy named Haku, in the strange spirit world she finds herself in. Once there, Chihiro navigates the spirit realm, meeting friends and foes alike, until Haku finally helps bring her back to her parents.

Girls Trip (2017)

Four college best friends have drifted apart over the years, but in a bid to bring them all back together, Ryan (Regina Hall) — an ultra-famous lifestyle mogul — takes them all on a girls’ trip to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, where she is the keynote speaker. Naturally, hijinks ensue once the friends (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, in a star-making turn) reconnect with their college selves a little too much, causing drunken, hilarious, and sometimes sexy chaos all over the Big Easy.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This movie elegantly depicts the beauty and frustration of close friendship groups, and how those friendships can help people change their lives. High school freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) doesn’t have any friends. But then two bright, cool, free-spirited classmates — Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) — welcome Charlie into their quirky and tight-knit friend group. Charlie goes from being a wallflower to learning about love, music, and art and developing his passion for writing. But Charlie’s trauma is hard to escape, and soon he finds himself having to face some painful memories and learn who he is without his friends.

Bridesmaids (2011)

Streaming on apple tv+ and amazon prime.

This raucous comedy is about the friendship between bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph) and her childhood best friend and absolute train wreck of a bridesmaid, Annie (Kristen Wiig). Since falling on hard financial times, Annie’s life hasn’t been going very well — professionally or romantically. So, once her best friend gets engaged, she tries to be happy for her. But when Annie fears she’s being replaced by Lillian’s new friend Helen, who is filthy rich and has a seemingly perfect life, Annie tries to be the perfect bridesmaid, failing in ways that make for a series of hilarious scenes loaded with secondhand embarrassment.

The Toy Story Films (1995, 1999, 2010, 2019)

Streaming on disney+.

Pretty much every Disney movie is, in some way, about friendship. But Toy Story stands out because of its unique premise and endurance. With four movies and a devoted fan base that spans generations, this epic film series about living toys and the bonds they form with their humans and one another is one of the most tender, hilarious sagas out there. For more than 20 years, we’ve been captivated by the friendship and adventures of Woody the Cowboy, Buzz Lightyear, and their ragtag group of plush and plastic buddies. Once you watch the films for yourself, you’ll understand why.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

Streaming on netflix.

In the Arizona desert, college best friends and one-time lovers Jules (Julia Roberts) and Michael (Dermot Mulroney) made a pledge: If they weren’t both married by age 28, they’d marry each other. Now, four days before her 28th birthday, Jules finds out that Michael is getting married to a preppy, rich 20-year-old college junior named Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). Naturally, Jules suddenly realizes that she’s been in love with Michael all along and vows to stop the wedding. Unfortunately, Jules is willing to do just about anything — no matter how cringey or grimy — to stop her best friend from walking down that aisle, even when Kimmy names Jules maid of honor. Everyone has strong opinions about Jules; they either love her or hate her. But regardless of how you feel, it’ll be hard to resist shedding a little tear at the sweet ending.

Frances Ha (2012)

Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig — who is now a formidably accomplished director herself — Frances Ha is about the titular character’s professional and friendship struggles, which intensify when her roommate and best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), moves from their shared Brooklyn apartment to an expensive home in Tribeca, leaving Frances basically homeless as she couch-surfs between other friends’ houses. As Frances’ life gets worse, Sophie’s only seems to get better, which causes confusion and pain between the two separated friends.

Thoroughbreds (2017)

This film is strange, weird, and darkly hilarious. The friendship between childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) doesn’t really make any sense, but that’s what makes it so compelling. On paper, these upper-class Connecticut girls’ paths couldn’t have diverged further. Lily is a high-achieving boarding-school student with the perfect internship. Amanda is shunned by the entire town and seems to be disturbingly lacking in feelings or empathy. But the two friends rekindle their bond, eventually carrying out a plan that will change both their lives in surprising ways.

Booksmart (2019)

Academically obsessed best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) haven’t had much fun during high school. But it’s for good reason. All the missed romances, hookups, and nights of partying are worth it. Why? Because they’re going to the Ivy League while their classmates are probably all headed for failure. But when Amy and Molly learn that the party kids have gotten into the same schools they have, they reevaluate their entire high school experience, leaving them committed to having one epically wild night together before graduation. This buddy comedy is raucous and hilarious from beginning to end, and it’s especially refreshing to take the genre out of its usual pattern of starring straight guys.

My Girl (1991)

Seriously, this is one of the most devastating movies you will ever watch. It traumatized an entire generation. Okay, I realize I’m not exactly selling it very well, but My Girl is devastating and wonderful. It’s about 11-year-old Vada, who mourns the mother she never met, since she died giving birth to Vada. But she has a good life, even if it is a little strange that she lives in a funeral home run by her father (Dan Aykroyd). Tomboyish Vada is different from the other kids, but her best friend, Thomas (Macaulay Culkin), is loyal and sweet. Vada’s coming of age is complicated by romantic feelings, but she quickly learns important lessons about love, family, loss, and friendship.

Blindspotting (2018)

Streaming on amazon prime.

Collin (Daveed Diggs) has only three days of probation left before he’s a completely free man. But when he witnesses something dangerous, all that is put in jeopardy. With his wild and unstable best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), Collin has to stay safe all while reckoning with the issues of race and class that have consumed their hometown of Oakland, California.

9 to 5 (1980)

This workplace satire follows three strong women (Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin) who are sick and tired of their narcissistic, overworking, sexist boss demeaning them. After some confusion involving rat poison and a stolen corpse, these three secretaries form a bond and decide to kidnap their boss and simply run the business themselves, making equitable changes regarding pay, childcare, and fair working hours. It’s a hilarious and silly movie, but it’s also an astute commentary on labor rights and gender equality. Also, Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5” is an absolute classic, perfect for singing in the shower. This movie really has everything.

Mean Girls (2004)

Most of the friendships in this movie should not, under any circumstances, be emulated. But they are entertaining and pretty accurately capture how high school kids — and even best friends — treat one another. Mean Girls is one of director Tina Fey’s greatest triumphs, portraying awkward, homeschooled Cady’s (Lindsay Lohan) slow ascent — or descent, depending on your perspective — into the most popular clique of girls at her new high school, led by the vicious and beautiful Regina George (Rachel McAdams). In her quest for popularity, Cady might end up losing some true friends, and herself.

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

You know that classic meme of Angela Bassett in her lacy nightgown, standing in front of a burning car? That iconic scene comes from this movie, adapted from Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel. Four Black women friends in Phoenix, Arizona, bond over the hurdles in their lives, mostly with men. Bassett’s character is left adrift when her cruel, philandering husband leaves her for his mistress. But her other two friends, Savannah (Whitney Houston) and Robin (Lela Rochon), are longing for the married men they’re in love with to leave their wives and begin real relationships with them. Gloria (Loretta Devine) is tired of being neglected and lets herself fall for a new love. This movie is about how, in the face of being objectified and discarded by men who don’t see them, women hold themselves and their friends up, bringing joy and happiness even with tears and frustration.

Now and Then (1995)

Four childhood friends — Samantha (Gaby Hoffmann, Demi Moore), Roberta (Christina Ricci, Rosie O’Donnell), Teeny (Thora Birch, Melanie Griffith), and Chrissy (Ashleigh Aston Moore, Rita Wilson) — reunite in their small Indiana hometown as Chrissy is about to give birth to her first child. As they come back together, each one so different from the others, a series of flashbacks takes us back to a formative summer in their lives, when the group became obsessed with solving a murder/ghost mystery. It’s a heartwarming movie, but it’s appreciated for the weight and depth it gives not only to childhood friendships, but to the complex interiority and strength of young girls.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (which translates as “Life Will Never Come Again”) is a heartwarming buddy comedy that handles some pretty deep themes. Kabir (Abhay Deol) is getting married and, instead of a bachelor party, he takes his two childhood friends Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and Imran (Farhan Akhtar) on a three-week road-trip adventure across Spain, with each friend choosing a fear-defying sport for them to do together. In Spain, workaholic Arjun meets and falls in love with Laila (Katrina Kaif), changing his perspective on life and love forever. Meanwhile, Kabir struggles with his impending nuptials, and Imran seeks out his biological father. In the end, the trip shows all three friends that life is too short and too precious not to seize the moment and go after what you want, and who you love.

Nylah Burton is a Chicago-based writer. Follow her on Twitter @ yumcoconutmilk .

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15 Prompts for Talking and Writing About Friendship

Questions to help students reflect on the meaning of friendship in their lives

true friendship only happens in the movies essay

By Natalie Proulx

Who are your closest friends? How much do you share with them? Do you actually like your friends? What have you learned from them?

Below, we’ve rounded up 15 questions we’ve asked students over the years all about friendship. You can use them as prompts for writing or discussion, inside the classroom or out. We hope they’ll inspire you to reflect on your friendships, consider how you can strengthen the ones you have, and motivate you to reach out and make new ones.

Each prompt includes an excerpt from a related New York Times article, essay or photo; a link to the related piece; and several questions to help you think deeply about it. Many of these questions are still open for comment from students 13 or older.

You can find even more ideas for teaching and learning about friendship in our related lesson plan: How Students Can Cultivate Meaningful Friendships Using The New York Times .

1. Who Are Your Friends?

Do you have a “best friend,” a few close friends or a large group of friends? What interests, experiences, passions and circumstances forge those relationships? What are some of your favorite memories or admirable characteristics you associate with your friends?

Use this Picture Prompt to talk or write about your most important friendships.

2. How Alike Are You and Your Friends?

Did you know there is science behind how we choose our friends? Research has shown that we tend to befriend people who are much like us in a wide array of characteristics, including age, race, religion, even our handgrip strength.

In this prompt , you’ll read more about the things that bond us, and then share what you and your friends have in common.

3. Do You Have Any Unlikely Friendships?

Though we tend to connect with people who are like us, sometimes friendship happens with someone we’d least expect. That was the case for Spencer Sleyon, a 22-year-old rapper and producer from East Harlem, and Rosalind Guttman, an 81-year-old woman living in a retirement community in Florida, who met playing the Words With Friends game.

Do you have any surprising friendships like this one?

4. How Much Do You Share With Your Friends?

Do you often express your innermost thoughts, feelings and struggles to those closest to you? Or do you tend to keep those things to yourself? Being vulnerable can be scary, but research shows it’s important for building connections with others.

Use this prompt to reflect on what it feels like to open up to your friends, and how you might try to do more of it.

5. Do You Have Satisfying Friendships?

Are internet friendships as fulfilling as in-person ones? In a guest essay, a writer argues that “The kind of presence required for deep friendship does not seem cultivated in many online interactions. Presence in friendship requires ‘being with’ and ‘doing for.’”

Do you agree? Can online “friends” be true friends? Share your opinion.

6. Do You Have Any Close Friends?

Do you prefer to have many casual friends or just a few close ones? What makes a person a “best” friend? Do you wish you had more close friendships? This prompt explores these questions and more, as well as shares expert advice for developing deeper friendships.

7. How Do You React When Your Friendships Change?

Have you ever become less close to a friend over time? Have you ever felt jealousy when your friend joined another friend group? Have you ever had a friendship just fizzle out? These kinds of changes happen all the time, but they can be difficult to navigate.

Tell us what you do when you feel a friendship start to shift.

8. Do Social Media and Smartphones Make Your Friendships Stronger?

true friendship only happens in the movies essay

Does being able to stay constantly in touch with your friends via social media, texting and location sharing strengthen your friendships and make them easier to maintain? Or does it do the opposite? Weigh in with your experiences on this prompt .

9. Do You Like Your Friends?

It may sound like a strange question, but a 2016 study found that only about half of perceived friendships are mutual. That means you might not even like someone who thinks of you as a best friend. And vice versa.

Is this is true for any of your relationships?

10. How Often Do You Text Your Friends Just to Say ‘Hi’?

When was the last time you texted, called, emailed or messaged a friend just to say “hello”? Research suggests casual check-ins might mean more than we realize. Do you underestimate how much your friends would like hearing from you?

Read what experts have to say and then share your thoughts.

11. Is It Harder for Men and Boys to Make and Keep Friends?

American men appear to be stuck in a “friendship recession,” according to a recent survey. Less than half of men said they were truly satisfied with the number of friendships they had. The same study also found that men are less likely than women to seek emotional support from or share personal feelings with their friends.

Does this reflect your experience? Weigh in.

12. Do You Have Any Intergenerational Friendships?

“When applying to my job, I had no idea of the friendships I would be making with 70+ year old women. They teach me new things every day while I hear their life stories and things they have done,” Laura from Ellisville wrote in response to this prompt.

Do you have any friends who are significantly younger or older than you? What do you think we can gain from these kinds of intergenerational friendships? Tell us here.

13. Have You Ever Been Left Out?

Imagine it’s a Saturday. All your friends told you they were busy, so you’re sitting at home, alone, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. But then you see a post that stops you in your tracks. It’s a picture of all of your friends hanging out together — without you. This is what happened to Hallie Reed in her first semester at college.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Use this prompt to talk or write about how it felt.

14. What Have Your Friends Taught You About Life?

“My friends taught me different perspectives on life.” “My friends have taught me to not care what other people think.” “My friends have taught me to be myself.”

These are just a few of the responses teenagers had to this prompt. What have your friends taught you?

15. Have You Ever Had a Significant Friendship End?

Few relationships are meant to last forever. In a guest essay, Lauren Mechling writes that “even bonds founded on that rare, deeply felt psychic connection between two people” are “bound to fray.”

Have you experienced this with someone with whom you were once very close? What happened? Share your story.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.

Find more Student Opinion questions here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.

Natalie Proulx joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2017 after working as an English language arts teacher and curriculum writer. More about Natalie Proulx

True Friendship from Personal Perspective Essay

Friendship is one of the greatest treasures available to people. People who have many friends are lucky because they have significant support and will never be alone. However, true friendship is even more important and valuable because it is a rare and unique phenomenon. It emerges between individuals at a certain stage of their relations’ development and affects them throughout their lifespan. No matter what happens in their lives, people remain close to each other and are always ready to help or spend time together. In such a way, true friendship can be defined as unique relations characterized by an improved understanding of another person’s peculiarities, positive emotions resulting from any interaction, and self-sacrifice to help a friend.

The perfect understanding of another person’s character and visions is one of the first characteristics of a true friendship. As I stated previously, this relationship lasts for the whole life. However, being close to a person is impossible if his/her values and ideas are unclear. In other words, true friends share their views and have similar representations, which makes their bond stronger. It also helps to move together, achieve various goals, and discuss difficulties emerging on the way to success. In such a way, mutual understanding, shared values, and similarities in mentalities are the key factors typical for true friends.

Moreover, true friendship is a generator of positive emotions and pleasant memories. For example, every person has a funny or positive story he/she can remember and share. Usually, such stories revolve around close friends and good times spent together. A really happy person has many memories of this sort, indicating that his/her life was full of pleasant events and friends supported him/her. In such a way, true friendship is an inexhaustible source of positive emotions needed for everyone to feel better and understand their lives are full of events that can be remembered. Even small talk with a true friend on a park bench can be remembered many years later because of the feelings it provoked.

Finally, self-sacrifice is one of the major factors differentiating friendship from true friendship. It implies readiness to disregard a person’s needs or interests at the moment, to help a friend move through difficult times, perform some tasks, or be close to ensure his/she is not alone. It is very close to the idea of marriage when people swear to go through thick and thin together. True friendship is a similar type of relationship as it rests on an emotional bond that lasts for the whole lifespan. For this reason, true friends can be viewed as relatives and the closest people, which implies readiness to share all positive and negative emotions and act regardless of personal interests and tasks.

Altogether, true friendship is a unique phenomenon that can make people happier. It is a source of positive emotions and support, which comes from the improved understanding of a person’s character, needs, and expectations. At the same time, true friends can be viewed as close people ready to sacrifice their own time and interest to help each other cope with complex tasks and move forward. For this reason, true friendship is one of the greatest gifts that make people happier and more confident and guarantees that life will be easier for those who are blessed with this virtue.

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true friendship only happens in the movies essay

Can we have more than one friend? According to Montaigne, no

true friendship only happens in the movies essay

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  • By Manuel Bermudez
  • March 1 st 2017

The Essais are the perfect mate to accompany anybody, throughout all stages of life. It’s always interesting to explore Michel de Montaigne ‘s life and his marvellous book: the Essais . Within his lifespan, Montaigne was able to find true friendship for himself and record its effects therein. Here we propose to navigate Montaigne’s approach to friendship.

In his Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle wrote that friendship was “one soul in two bodies.” Montaigne, on the contrary, always thought that friendship was a free exchange between two people.

Montaigne thought that true friendship was rare. He himself acknowledges to have found only one proper friend in his life: Etienne de La Boétie. And he could enjoy this friendship only for a mere four years. They met as adults and death took Montaigne’s soulmate early. An irreplaceable loss. After La Boétie’s death (in 1563), Montaigne didn’t feel the desire to find a substitute for his dead friend. Perhaps the reason was that our French friend knew intuitively that such a profound bond could only happen once in a lifetime.

Is it possible to have many different friends at any given time? According to Montaigne, true friends are not only scarce, but they should be unique, if only for loyalty’s sake.

If two friends asked you to help them at the same time, which of them would you dash to? If they asked for conflicting favours, who would have the priority? If one entrusted to your silence something that was useful to the other, how would you manage?

—  Montaigne, Essais , “On Friendship”


The dilemma set here finds an easy solution for Montaigne, since the balance will always incline towards one of them. A succession of these choices would lead him to the real friend. Thus, it would be proved that true friendships tend to uniqueness.

When Montaigne talks about friendship, he does so from his own feelings towards a person of flesh and blood: Etienne de La Boétie. He transferred what he felt for his kindred spirit to the Essais . He loved his friend to the point where he felt despondently lost when La Boétie died. Montaigne attempted to find solace in his writing about La Boétie, even though he failed to portray the true nature of their relationship.

We can find a good deal of mystery in a friendship like these two men had. That strange and powerful empathy that Montaigne tried to describe is difficult to understand. Montaigne concludes that: “They are unimaginable facts for those who have not tried them.”

Montaigne distinguished true friendship from ordinary friendship. Ordinary friendships have, in a way or another, self-interest behind their development. It’s an investment made not with money, but with affection. On the other hand, true friendship is described by the author with the following words:

For the rest, which we commonly call friends, and friendships, are nothing but acquaintance, and familiarities, either occasionally contracted, or upon some design, by means of which, there happens some little intercourse betwixt our souls: but in the friendship I speak of, they mix and work themselves into one piece, with so universal a mixture, that there is no more sign of the seam by which they were first conjoyn’d.

In an attempt to describe the nature of his friendship with La Boétie, Montaigne concludes with his famous expression: “If a man should importune me to give a reason why I lov’d him; I find it could no otherwise be exprest, than by making answer: because it was he, because it was I.”

We can only add here that in the example of Bordeaux of the Essais , Montaigne wrote first “because it was he.” Later he added “because it was I.”

Featured image credit: Title page of the second volume of Montaigne’s Essais, 1588. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons .

Manuel Bermudez is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cordoba, Spain. He is the author of the Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy article, " Michel de Montaigne ."

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Union Penumbra

Union Penumbra

An interdisciplinary journal of critical and creative inquiry, friendship in frankenstein: an artistotelian-thomistic analysis.

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True friendship, as defined by both Aristotle and Aquinas, calls for not only a whole person development, but also a whole community development. Whole person development refers to the development of individual abilities and attributes that increase virtue or character (goodness), while whole community development refers to the development of environmental and social attributes of community that make room for and inspire the development of the whole person. Within the story of Frankenstein , each of the main characters, Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Monster, as well as the lesser characters of Henry Clerval, Alphonse Frankenstein, and Elizabeth Lavenza, highlights aspects of friendship within the larger pursuit of personal goals. The character’s personal goals influence and are influenced by their friendships within the story. My primary claim in this essay is to explicate each character’s significant friendships within the context of true friendship, and show how, as each character pursued a single value, such as intellect, love, revenge, and the like, their development as whole persons (and by extension, their contribution to and development of their communities) was greatly hindered.


The story of Frankenstein is a multilayered tale encompassing multiple themes and ideas. Commentary on the story has stressed many of these themes, including: race relations, education, scientific and medical progress, gender roles and relations, psychological and psychiatric understanding of personality development, attachment, and mental illness. Each of these themes can be said to emphasize specific aspects of whole person and/or whole community development. For example, on the theme of racial discourse, Anne Mellor discusses the descriptive characteristics of the Monster as being obviously Asiatic, non-Caucasian giant, at once implying the early 19 th Century fears of the Orient and the implications of association with the nations of the East, whether political, religious, artistic, commercial, etc., might have upon the Europeans (2). Allan Lloyd Smith goes even further, stating, “Shelley chose not to give her scientist the arguably more straightforward route of reanimation of a dead human body: her choice of an assemblage of various human and animal parts introduces the issues attached to cross-racial and even cross-species reproduction and thus engages with the anthropological and biological discourses” of the time (211).

Overlapping with the commentary on race is the commentary on medical and social responsibility to those considered in need of guidance (Marcus 199). Such a paternalistic position changes the protector as much as it changes the protected: Frankenstein comes to share “the monstrosity of the creature’s condition- his solitude, his singularity, his being utterly outcast, his exile from human and communal forms of life” (199). Marcus goes on to say, “Irresponsible medicine is a mythological playing-out of the fantasy of technological omnipotence, is medicine without the awareness of the Other as a coequal self-consciousness” (199). Questions of difference, such as what they are and how we engage each other because of and despite these differences, are as much a part of our understanding of progress, technology, medicine, and politics, as they are part of our worldview.

Gender and Sexuality

Gender and sexuality enter the general discussion, not only in relation to the Romantic/Gothic novel, but also concerning the role they play in our understanding of progress, technology, medicine, and politics. Vanessa Dickerson makes the argument that women within Shelley’s novel are little more than ghosts: “narcissistic males like Walton and Victor tend to be scientists, the doers, the literalizers who dominate the story, the selfless, ethereal and unscientific women in the novel are practically transparent if not invisible” (79-80). They are props in the homoeroticism of the male characters (Dickerson 80; Daffron 417).

Concerning male-male relationships, intimacy, and sexuality, Shelley advances a sensitive, though subsumed, understanding of masculinity (Daffron 417). The intensity of Victor’s and Henry’s relationship, a true friendship as discussed below, is overshadowed by Victor’s insipient homophobia. Victor responds voyeuristically to his monstrous creation, built from the parts of men whose features he found beautiful, relating the Monster’s coming to life in what amounts to a physical description of orgasm, “it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs” (Shelley 22). Victor is horrified by this attraction to the Monster, spending the night dreaming of Elizabeth, his boyhood love. Embracing and kissing her in his dream, Victor witnesses the woman he loved innocently transformed into the corpse of his mother, while the Monster lived and breathed in the next room (23). Victor spends much of the novel evading the line between the sanctioned male friendships of his age and desiring intimacy with another male figure (Daffron 424), represented in the continual tension, feverish hallucinations, and saboteur behaviors toward himself and the Monster.

According to Daffron, Shelley’s presentations of gender inequality and homophobia are part of a larger critique of misogyny. The Monster asks for a female like himself, “with whom [he] can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for [his] being” (Shelley 70). Victor consents to the Monster’s request, but only after repeated threats to the lives of Victor’s friends and family, and with the promise that the Monster and his companion will remain far from civilization (72). Despite the verbal contract, Victor and the Monster remain at odds, and eventually Victor destroys the female companion he was nearly close to finishing (82). The destruction of the companion leads to the Monster fulfilling his threat of killing Elizabeth (97). The use of women as objects, between Victor and the Monster, even between the narrator and the reader in the person of Margaret Saville to whom Walton relates the tale, in Shelley’s restrained critique of the destabilizing force Victorian-era relational paradigms, ultimately perpetuates “a claustrophobic, homophobic space of only men” (Daffron 426).

The way society turns to other-ing, be it by race, gender, social class, societal role, impacts relationships. However, a review of the literature, a brief sampling of which was discussed above, seems to lack a foundational, metaphysical appeal to a metatheoretical approach that would tie all these insights together. There is such a theory, longstanding in its tradition, that does provide such a connection: the Aristotelian-Thomistic understanding of human flourishing as represented through their explication of friendship.

On Friendship

While predating modern, psychological, anthropological, and sociological understandings of human interaction, there is an ancient philosophical theory, updated in the Middle Ages, that provides a metaphysical foundation for human interaction as a kind of flourishing between individuals, what is commonly called friendship. This theory begins with Aristotle and continues through the work of Thomas Aquinas. In reference to Frankenstein in particular, this theory of friendship sheds light on the relationships of the major characters, the Romantic critique of the Enlightenment (especially the notion of progress), and enables us to form a deeper understanding. The purpose of this paper is to bring forth this theory of friendship in relation to the major characters of the novel, illustrating where they have embodied or failed to embody the aspects of human flourishing that comprise friendship. In so doing, I hope to provide an Aristotelian-Thomistic critique of the Enlightenment that is in line with Shelley’s Romantic critique, as represented by the sorrow, disconnection, and despair each of the characters exhibits. Even the lesser characters, such as Henry Clerval, Alphonse Frankenstein, and Elizabeth Lavenza, exhibit this critique of modernity. I will first outline the Aristotelian-Thomistic theory of friendship, limiting the analysis to the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle and the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. Then, I will discuss the three major figures- Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Monster- as well as the minor figures with whom they interact- Henry Clerval, Alphonse Frankenstein, and Elizabeth Lavenza- as each of them relates to the main aspects of friendship and its importance to human flourishing.

Aristotle, as expounded in Nicomachean Ethics , presents a theory of human flourishing that has multiple components. Human flourishing, or as it is commonly translated “excellence,” has two aspects, one that refers to what is innate within us (virtue) and one that refers to what we learn from interaction with our fellow creatures (skill) (1103 a ). Neither the one nor the other is able to develop the individual completely, but rather they work in tandem, showing an astute understanding of the interpersonal factors that contribute to human flourishing. In fact, neither virtue nor skill can develop without being exercised, skill requiring education and tutelage, virtue requiring situations in which the character trait can be exercised. Aristotle goes onto outline his theory of human flourishing over the course of several lectures, and in Book VIII ties this theory to the interpersonal relationships associated with friendship. He builds his understanding of friendship on the same predicates as that of his theory of human flourishing, pointing toward the holistic and integrated understanding of interpersonal interactions and their necessity to human flourishing, “without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods” (VIII.1). Friendship, according to Aristotle, holds groups together, allows individuals to not only seek after justice, but to exercise the virtues completely (VIII.1).

There are three kinds or levels of friendship, each corresponding to a different level of human flourishing: utility, pleasure (hedonia), and virtue (eudaimonia). Each level of friendship corresponds to how we love (VIII.3). Friendship of utility corresponds to utilitarian love: we form the friendship based on what each of the individuals in the friendship gain from the relationship (VIII.3). Friendship of pleasure (hedonic friendship) corresponds to hedonic love: we form the friendship based on emotion, feelings of pleasure, and the arousal of “other hopes of something good to come” (VIII.3). Friendship of virtue (perfect or true friendship, eudaimonic friendship) corresponds to perfect love: we form friendships based on the development of virtue, the choosing of the good for the other because it is the good for the other and no other reason (VIII.3). Eudaimonic friendship, because it is based on virtue, also contains within it friendship of utility and hedonia, just as perfect love contains within it utilitarian love and hedonic love (VIII.3).

Each level of friendship builds on the other, resulting in true friendship only when all three levels are present. Friendship of utility, which seeks relationship with others for the good the individual receives from it, is deficient for human flourishing because it does not provide the individual with a way to develop skill, virtue, feel pleasure- only to satisfy need. Hedonic friendship builds on the notion of utility, and adds the emotions, feelings of pleasure, that arise from the satisfaction of need and from the joy we get from the other. However, hedonic friendship is also deficient, as hedonic friendship does not require the individuals involved to develop character traits that create excellence, nor does it foster the good for the other in the relationship. Eudaimonic friendship is perfect friendship, because not only does it contain the aspects of utilitarian and hedonic friendships (it satisfies needs and has emotional involvement), but also encourages the development of skill and virtue, and seeks the good of the other for the sake of the other. Moreover, true friendship is built on love: “for love may be felt just as much towards lifeless things, but mutual love involves choice and choice springs from a state of character; and men wish well to those whom they love, for their sake, not as a result of feeling but as a result of a state of character. And in loving a friend men love what is good for themselves; for the good man in becoming a friend becomes a good to his friend. Each, then, both loves what is good for himself, and makes an equal return in goodwill and in pleasantness; for friendship is said to be equality, and both of these are found most in the friendship of the good.” (VIII, 5).

True friendship, then, according to Aristotle, does several things to increase human flourishing. For the individual, utility, hedonia, and eudaimonia intermingle for the development of virtue, the creation of excellence of character that is shown through skill and habit, as well as need satisfaction and pleasure feeling. In true or perfect friendship, utility, hedonia, and eudaimonia find their outlet in human connection. This is an important component in Aristotle’s theory. No one individual is isolated or disconnected from the society in which he or she lives. As a result, for an individual to truly achieve excellence of character that is the hallmark of eudaimonia, the individual must establish friendships that reflect and foster the excellence of character after which he or she is striving.

He also addresses the kinds of relationships that mirror these levels of friendship, showing how each can also have the character of true friendship, despite inequalities that may be inherent in the power structure of the relationship. For example, individuals of “sour and elderly people” can engage in friendship when they find individuals of similar temperament or can “bear goodwill to each other” (VIII.6). This type of friendship falls either into the utility level or the hedonia level, depending on the motivation for the friendship. However, such individuals are not excluded from perfect friendship, it is only more difficult for them to achieve it. For individuals who have authority over others, they often chose individuals for friendships that help them achieve some characteristic important to their station (VIII.6). This pertains to familial relationships, such as that of father and son, as well as political relationships, such as that of ruler and ruled. These relationships typify friendships that mirror all three types of friendships, but due to their nature are unlikely to produce perfect friendship. This does not mean that it is impossible, however, but that the nature of the relationship changes when perfect friendship is achieved between these individuals. As Aristotle puts it, “It is by their likeness to the friendship of virtue that they seem to be friendships (for one of them involves pleasure and the other utility, and these characteristics belong to the friendship of virtue as well); while it is because the friendship of virtue is proof against slander and permanent, while these quickly change (besides differing from the former in many other respects), that they appear not to be friendships; i.e. it is because of their unlikeness to the friendship of virtue” (VIII.6).

Thomas Aquinas builds on Aristotle’s basic outline of friendship in the Summa Theologica , stating “Friendship cannot exist except towards rational creatures, who are capable of returning love, and communicating one with another in the various works of life, and who may fare well or ill, according to the changes of fortune and happiness; even as to them is benevolence properly speaking exercised” (I.20.2.r3). Friendship, then, requires recognition of the other as being capable of returning the same choice, the choice for the good of the other. In Aquinas’s concept of rational creatures, he is drawing on the metaphysical precepts of Christianity. Rational creatures in this view can include humans, angels, and any creature to whom God has granted reason. While the specifics of his hierarchical understanding of creation is beyond the scope of this paper, the requirement of rationality places a proviso upon friendship that is implied by Aristotle: we cannot have friendship with creatures that do not have reason. Communication between the individuals engaged in the friendship is also a necessary component, again implied by Aristotle and made explicit here. In order to foster the good of the other, communication is the method in which we make this known.

Friendship unites friend to friend in love, stemming from the desire for good that is appropriate to the nature of the individual who loves (I.60.3). Utility and pleasure are aspects of friendship, but do not comprise the whole or fullness of the love and good which are at the core of true friendship (I-II.4.7). This is a direct mirror of Aristotle’s levels of friendships. Utility and pleasure are part of the fullness of friendship; they are present in true friendship because true friendship satisfies the wholeness of human flourishing. Where they exist without seeking  the good for the other, they are merely functions of parts of ourselves, for Aquinas, like Aristotle, considers human creatures as comprising higher and lower aspects: utility and pleasure satisfy the lower parts, but not the fullness of the rational creature.

Progress toward beatitude or happiness, while not attainable in this life according to Aquinas, is begun in the friendships that we establish with each other; friends enable us to further develop virtues that are necessary for such happiness (I-II.5.5). Moreover, friendships of utility or pleasure only hinder the flourishing of true friendship. “When friendship is based on usefulness or pleasure, a man does indeed wish his friend some good: and in this respect the character of friendship is preserved. But since he refers this good further to his own pleasure or use, the result is that friendship of the useful or pleasant, in so far as it is connected with love of concupiscence, loses the character to true friendship” (I-II.26.4.r3). In other words, every relationship is a kind of friendship, but there is a hierarchy to the relationships in regards to individual and group character development (or growth of virtue).

The reasons that utility and pleasure are incomplete is that they are selfish. They reflect the pursuit of the good back onto the pursuer and not the good for the sake of the other in the relationship: “Friendship based on convenience or pleasure is friendship inasmuch as we want our friend’s good; but because this is subordinated to our own profit or pleasure such friendship is subordinated to love of desire and falls short of true friendship” (Aquinas 205). This is an important explication of Aristotle’s theory. By categorizing friendships of utility and pleasure as selfish when they exist on their own shows, from the point of view of perfect friendship, where they lack in the development of virtue and goodness, where they lack love. True human flourishing is not a quality that exists in an individual rational creature, but rather through the interaction and interconnection of rational creatures. True friendship, then, also requires this interaction and interconnection, as friendship is one of the processes through which human flourishing occurs.

Analysis of the Novel

Within the story of Frankenstein , we are constantly reminded of the need for friends, the desire for the kind of interaction and connection that comes through the seeking of human flourishing. The three main characters- Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Monster- each express desire for this kind of relationship, but each fails in different ways. The interactions with the minor characters- Alphonse Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, and Elizabeth Lavenza- also highlight where each of the characters is deficient in their pursuit of true friendship, why each of them winds up frustrated and alone: Walton returning to the bosom of his family, Frankenstein dead, and the Monster into the arctic. The way in which the story is told, as well as the progression of the events within the layered narrative, provide the critique of the Enlightenment that is at the core of Shelley’s Romanticism. The Aristotelian-Thomistic analysis of friendship provided above is in line with the Romantic critique, and in many ways, provides a foundation for the more modern analysis.

Robert Walton

Robert Walton, as the narrator and one of the three main characters of the novel, is the first to broach the desire for friendship that is at the heart of human flourishing. In the opening letters to his sister, Walton writes, “I desire the company of a man who could sympathise with me; whose eyes would reply to mine…. I bitterly feel the want of a friend” (Shelley 4). At first, the desire for friendship that he puts forth is that of hedonic friendship. Sympathy is an emotional response to seeing in another a state or event with which we personally identify. However, Walton goes onto expound his desire further, stating that the friend he desires would be “gentle yet courageous, possessed of cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans” (4). Such a friend would help Walton to be a better person, develop patience, and ground him in the realities of the moment, “who would have sense enough not to despise [him] as a romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavor to regulate [his] mind” (4). One can extrapolate from these statements that Walton is desirous of more than mere hedonic friendship. The phrasing of this desire is self-reflective, hinting at true friendship but without the other-reflective qualities that would mark his desire as one for true friendship. As the story progresses, the reader is granted insight into Walton’s retelling of both Victor Frankenstein’s and the Monster’s desires. The reader is shown Walton’s deepened understanding of the role of friendship, as he develops sympathy for the other, and reorders his life goals in such a way as to return to his family and begin a different kind of life. He recognizes the horror his sister must have felt reading his narrative (155). When discussing the final moments he has with Frankenstein, he states, “My thoughts, and every feeling of my soul, have been drunk up by the interest of my guest, which this tale, and his own elevated and gentle manners, have created. I wish to soothe him” (156). He goes as far as to try to help Frankenstein desire to live, “Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one; but, I fear, I have gained him only to know his value, and lose him. I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses the idea” (157). These sentiments show Walton’s deep desire for true friendship, and the understanding that he has been operating on the hedonic level the whole time. He sought a friend as a way for him to feel pleasure in others, and came to realize, over the course of Frankenstein’s tale, that he also wanted to show the same considerations for the other; his self-reflective desire for companionship changed to other-reflective.

After this change, he realizes his own deficiencies of virtue, even as he realizes his growth in eudaimonia, “The brave fellows, whom I have persuaded to be my companions, look towards me for aid; but I have none to bestow. There is something terribly appalling in our situation, yet my courage and hopes do not desert me. Yet it is terrible to reflect that the lives of all these men are endangered through me. If we are lost, my mad schemes are the cause” (158). Such a recognition of his responsibility toward the lives of those under his command, which shows the type of friendship that mirrors true friendship, in the form of one having authority over others. And yet he is clear, his hope and courage are with him. Hope and courage are virtues, the balance between extremes of human characteristics on which excellence is habituated (Aristotle II.7). So, Walton’s relationship with Frankenstein, while beginning as hedonic friendship, changes over the course of the narrative, taking on the characteristics of true friendship, as evidenced by his attention to the needs of his crew.

Understandably, Walton’s full story is not revealed, but only so much as to frame Frankenstein’s narrative. The bookends of Walton’s letters to his sister provide the reader with the setting and context in which Frankenstein relates his own scientific pursuits, interpersonal relationships, and mysterious creation of the Monster, as well as the Monster’s tale, retold through Frankenstein’s narrative. In those few missives, the major points of Frankenstein’s narrative are foreshadowed: the desire for scientific knowledge and renown, the pursuit and development of single attributes and abilities in lieu of the whole person, and the resulting poor interpersonal relationships that arise when one becomes single-minded. Even the desolate reaches of the North where the boat becomes lodged in ice shows the single-mindedness of the main characters- the downfall of their journey, and why they have failed to find the friendships they all seek (Shelley 7, 8). Moreover, the desolation of the North, and the abandonment of Walton’s initial plans for great scientific discovery in favor of returning to his family also foreshadows the Monster’s ultimate despair, a result of the choices and interactions with others that prohibited from achieving the kinds of friendship he desired.

Walton describes Frankenstein in the following way: “I have found a man who, before his spirit had been broken by misery, I should have been happy to have possessed as the brother of my heart” (11). When Frankenstein recovers his strength, and can engage in conversation with Walton, he furthers the development of the search for friendship, both in his relationship with Walton and in the narrative he relates, a large portion of it dealing with his relationships with Elizabeth and with Clerval. Before he begins the story of the Monster’s creation, he establishes what behaviors toward the other are appropriate or, more accurately, inappropriate, behaviors that instantiate and grow the concomitant virtues which form true friendship. To Walton, Frankenstein says, “You seek for knowledge and wisdom as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been” (13). This statement to Walton is the intentional or attitudinal disposition necessary for the foundation of friendship, desiring the cultivation of virtue in the other and the avoidance of disaster or ill-fortune. This disposition is not the only aspect necessary for true friendship, and Frankenstein’s narrative shows what more is necessary through what his relationships lack.

Victor Frankenstein

Frankenstein’s relationships with Henry Clerval, his father Alphonse, Elizabeth Lavenza and the Monster, continue the exposition of friendship within the novel, as well as show how the advancement of any one aspect of human culture, without all the other aspects, can impact the development of true friendship. Henry Clerval is “boy of singular talent and fancy,” who enjoyed risk-taking, was chivalrous, with a keen imagination (19). He was kind and tender, which enhanced his adventuresome spirit (20). All of these traits attracted Frankenstein, drawing him to Clerval as a companion and confidant. Yet, as he became more and more involved in his work, Frankenstein stopped fostering the relationship between him and Clerval. The memories of their companionship and balance took on a quality that resembles friendship of utility.

While Frankenstein continued to delve more and more into his pursuit to create life, he ignored the development of his other virtues, becoming withdrawn and obsessive (32-34). In his own words, “a human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind, and never allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquility” (34); Frankenstein lost this balance when he ignored the mutuality that Clerval’s friendship helped to foster within him. It was the restoration of Clerval to Frankenstein (despite the creation of the Monster and the tremendous mental disturbance that obsession caused), that calmed his spirit and brought him back to his senses (37). Frankenstein was able to feel joy and cast aside his sorrows and misfortunes only when his friendship with Clerval was intact (37).

When the Monster murdered Clerval, Frankenstein turned his attentions to the pursuit of the Monster, subsuming all relationships under his need for revenge. Frankenstein acknowledges that Clerval is a victim of his (Frankenstein’s) own pursuit of science, stating “that Clerval, my friend and dearest companion, had fallen victim to me and the Monster of my creation” (135). Frankenstein’s pursuit of revenge of the Monster clouded his responsibilities to himself and to the development of his science- if he had been cultivating true friendship with Clerval, that friendship would have been a check on his obsessions, as he would have been more able to cultivate temperance and the other virtues that go along with the pursuit of the good, of which true friendship is a part.

Frankenstein’s relationship with Elizabeth is a bit more complicated, highlighting friendships that not only involve the three levels of friendship, but also the different types or capacities of friendship, such as between siblings and lovers. Frankenstein describes his relationship with Elizabeth in the following way: “Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents’ house- my more than sister- the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures” (17). He “looked upon Elizabeth as mine- mine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her I received as made to a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me- my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only” (18). His description of his relationship with Elizabeth shows that his understanding of friendship is varied and encompasses all three levels of friendship to different degrees. First, it is marked by friendship of utility, as he considers Elizabeth, to some extent, to be his possession, something that satisfies a need for him. Second, it is marked by hedonic friendship, as Frankenstein gains pleasure from their relationship. Third, by stating that Elizabeth was his “to protect, love, and cherish,” Frankenstein shows that there are also elements of true friendship in his relationship with her. Love and protection, and to a certain extent cherishment, are elements that involve the good of the other, for the good of the other.

On Elizabeth’s part, the reader gains little about her perception of the relationship. I think this is for two reasons. First, the reader only learns about Elizabeth’s disposition through Frankenstein’s narrative, and that limits access to her thoughts and disposition. However, there are two letters from Elizabeth to Frankenstein that give some insight into her disposition toward him. In the first letter, Elizabeth writes to Victor as he is recovering from the shock of having created the Monster. She expresses worry for his condition: “You are forbidden to write- to hold a pen; yet one word from you, dear Victor, is necessary to calm our apprehensions” (40). She has hope for his welfare, saying “I eagerly hope that you will confirm this intelligence soon in your own handwriting” (40). She relates to him the happenings of their family, giving Victor information regarding his siblings, father, and household servants; she even indulges to relate some of the gossip of Geneva. These sorts of communiques show that she includes him in her daily interactions with others, despite his distance and lack of reciprocal communication with her. She notes, “I have written myself into better spirits, dear cousin; by my anxiety returns upon me as I conclude. Write, dearest Victor- one line- one word will be a blessing to us” (42). So, there are elements of hedonic friendship here; in writing to Victor, she is giving herself pleasure, pulling herself out of the worry she feels. Moreover, an element of utilitarian friendship remains, as she has the need for her anxiety to be lessened, and asks Victor to satisfy that need for her. This does not exclude the elements of true friendship that are also present- she is genuinely concerned for Victor’s well-being for his own sake. In the second letter, Elizabeth relates the heartache she has felt for Victor over the course of his trial, and the desire she has for his well-being, “My poor cousin, how much you must have suffered! … This winter has been passed most miserably, tortured as I have been by anxious suspense; yet I hope to see peace in your countenance, and find that your heart is not totally void of comfort and tranquility” (137-8). This shows the depths of true friendship, acknowledgement of Victor’s suffering and a desire that he find peace. Further, she highlights aspects of the multiple kinds of friendships they share- that of childhood playmates, siblings, lovers, potential spouses- all of which are intertwined between the levels of friendship they share.

According to the Aristotelian-Thomistic theory presented here, the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth is a complicated one. It has the layers of friendship due to the different layers of relationship they have with one another, as siblings and lovers. It has the levels of friendship- utility, hedonism, and eudaimonia- that mark true friendship, but each of these levels is salient at different times and for different reasons. Given the presentation of the novel itself, this changing saliency presents a new facet of the critique that Shelley makes, which can be inferred from the Aristotelian-Thomistic model. Specifically, friendship, in all its forms, changes over time and according to the needs of the individuals involved in the particular relationship. This causes varied levels of friendship to become more salient than other levels of the friendship at various times. This does not necessarily mean that the individuals engaged in a true friendship do not maintain the true friendship over time, but rather that the development of the individuals involved requires diverse needs, skills, and virtues to be satisfied and/or flourish in order to ensure the overall development of the individuals. Although the novel does not address this directly, it is a clear critique made given the constantly changing interpersonal relationships, as represented in the brief outline of Victor and Elizabeth’s relationship.

Victor’s relationship with his father, Alphonse, also highlights the varying degrees of friendship, although more subtly than his relationship with Clerval and Elizabeth. We know most about Victor’s father from the indulgence and sternness with which he was treated during his studies, from a letter received by Victor from Alphonse after Victor’s recovery from the creation of the Monster, and his presence alongside Victor during and after his trial for Clerval’s murder. “My parents,” Victor tells us, “were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed” (19).  Alphonse embodies, to an extent, the friendship of parent and child, as Aristotle remarks:

Each party, then, neither gets the same from the other, nor ought to seek it; but when children render to parents what they ought to render to those who brought them into the world, and parents render what they should to their children, the friendship of such persons will be abiding and excellent. In all friendships implying inequality the love also should be proportional, i.e. the better should be more loved than he loves, and so should the more useful, and similarly in each of the other cases; for when the love is in proportion to the merit of the parties, then in a sense arises equality, which is certainly held to be characteristic of friendship. (VIII.7)

However, there is an incident which Victor relates that caused Victor some amount of heartache, namely, when Victor begins to study Cornelius Agrippa, and his father ridicules him. Victor feels this failure of kindness and intellectual rigor on the part of his father very deeply, and it impacts their relationship for many years. He hypothesizes, “If, instead of this remark, my father had taken pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded, and that a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers that the ancient…” (Shelley 20-1). In other words, his father was more concerned with his own sense of pleasure or need (it is Alphonse’s knowledge that Alphonse wishes to exemplify or merely to satisfy his own disgust with his son’s choice of study), rather than with the development of his son’s intellect. In this way, Alphonse failed in his fatherly duties, as well as in the cultivation of the friendship he has with his son.

When Victor was in Ingolstadt, recovering from his terror of having created the Monster, with Clerval by his side, he receives from Clerval a letter from Alphonse. This letter contains several bits of information, some which highlights the friendship of father and son which Aristotle mentions. Alphonse looks to commiserate with his son, “You have probably waited impatiently for a letter…” (46). However, the letter is to relate what has happened to Victor’s younger brother- he was killed by the Monster (47). While the nature of the letter is one of tragedy, even if the tragedy is caused by Victor’s Monster, there are certain points which mark this as one exemplifying Aristotle’s theory, as well as showing where Alphonse’s fatherly friendship is also deficient. For example, he has no desire to “inflict pain on [his] long-absent son” but also needs to make him aware of the tragedy that has befallen the family, namely the murder of William, Victor’s little brother (46). Conversely, Alphonse is unable to console Elizabeth, and asks Victor to come and take care of her, “you alone can console Elizabeth,” as well as the whole family, “return and be our comforter,” a sentiment that pulls at Victor’s emotionality, and in some ways, is founded more in utility and hedonism than in true friendship (47). However, Alphonse addresses his son as “friend,” and entreats him to be with them through their mourning.

Further in Frankenstein’s narrative, Victor relates that his father joined him during the murder trial, making an appearance at Victor’s jail cell under the appellation of “friend” (132). During the exchange between Victor and Alphonse that follows, however, their relationship is primarily rooted in the father and son dichotomy, and they try to fulfill the duties and obligations as the circumstance requires. Victor relates, “My father calmed me with reassurances of their welfare, and endeavored, by dwelling on these subjects so interesting to my heart, to raise my desponding spirits” (133). Alphonse validates Victor’s reasons for travelling, acknowledging the heartache his son must be feeling at the murder of his friend, and is for Victor “like that of my good angel” (133). These are the marks of friendship that are proportional and appropriate for a father to a son, even seeking to ensure his son’s future happiness in marriage to Elizabeth (Aristotle VIII.7; Shelley 140). Victor was suicidal during this time, wrapped in the depression and grief of the murder of Clerval, and in this sense, fails to return the proportional and appropriate behaviors of a son to a father (Shelley 134).

Victor’s failings in the many friendships he relates over the course of his narrative is due in large part to his single-mindedness, first in relation to his studies, then in his relation to the consequences of having created the Monster. This single-mindedness overwhelms his ability to form and carry out the types of relationships and levels of friendships that human flourishing requires. It is this single-mindedness that becomes his downfall, although he recognizes this as he is dying, exhorting Walton as only a true friend can, “Seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed” (162). His last act is to be the true friend of Walton.

The Monster

The Monster’s narrative about friendship alternately embodies true friendship, friendship of utility and friendship of pleasure. The progression of his story is an analogue of the distinct kinds of friendship Aristotle and Aquinas outline. When he first awakes to his condition, before the notions of betterment or revenge (a kind of personal advantage notion of progress, if you will) consume him, he is filled with wonder and curiosity at his environment, and seeks the companionship of others to share this wonder and curiosity with (71-72). However, given his grotesqueness and overall lack of knowledge concerning human interactions (no language, custom, or familial resemblance), he is quickly set upon by the humans he tries to interact with (74). Eventually, he comes into an interesting relationship with the blind farmer and his children, learns language and routine behaviors, comes to understand trade-offs and heartache, and is exposed to the intricate dynamics of human behavior (Chapter XII).

Something happens within the Monster’s formation, however, that he no longer seeks connection with humans, but becomes obsessed with finding a companion of his own kind. I think the reason for this is two-fold. On the one hand, he is responding to what he is taught from the humans, that he is something to be feared due to his construction and general difference. On the other hand, he sees that he is different, and true friendship is built on connection and development with one who is substantially like oneself, sharing the same species as it were. The combination of experience and existence that overlap in his narrative seem to spur the Monster into a direction of personal progress over and above his development as a good person (whether he be human or not).

In order to create an environment in which he can seek true friendship, the Monster asks Frankenstein to build him a companion that is like him in every way, with the added benefit of potential romantic connection, as well: “You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of sympathies necessary for my being” (104). At first, the Monster is living in accord with virtue and goodness in his asking Frankenstein, but it quickly devolves to coercion and revenge. I think this is partly due to the two-fold influence on the Monster’s development already discussed. However, I think it is due more to the fact that the Monster became obsessed with creating his own community, since he had been ostracized from humans. Creating one’s own community is not a bad thing; in fact, it is necessary to flourishing to have a supportive community in which one is involved. It is when the establishment of such a community is the only focus where true friendship becomes perverted- there is no longer the dual focus on personal and group development, a prerequisite for the flourishing of goodness.

The relationship between Victor and the Monster is the antithesis of the Aristotelian-Thomistic theory of friendship presented here. Victor fails in his creator/fatherly duties to the creature, running in fear from the grotesqueness of his creation, and then seeking to destroy his creation without recognition of the Monster’s independence and individual moral standing. Conversely, the Monster goes through his own process, beginning from a place of virtue and eudaimonia and devolving into a murderous destroyer of others’ happiness. As the Monster himself states, “When I first sought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole being overflowed, that I wished to be participated. But now, that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned to bitter and loathing despair” (164). His failure to flourish is due in part to the treatment he received from others, as well as from his own lack of self-development and focus on revenge against Victor: “For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was spurned” (165).

Single-mindedness and lack of whole person development remain throughout the novel the downfall of friendship in its full form for each of the major characters. As a critique of the Enlightenment, Frankenstein stands strong against the notion of any one form of progress, personal or group, in which all the virtues and needs of human flourishing are not also developed. The Aristotelian-Thomistic model of friendship helps to shed light on why notions of scientific and single-subject development is detrimental to human flourishing. As an aid to understanding the horror of the novel, what is truly the tragedy of the characters, true friendship as a mark of human flourishing is a key component. While there has been a great deal of research into the themes of the novel, friendship has been little researched. What I have presented here is a rudimentary look into this concept as it relates to the story and as a critique of modernity. Future work should involve a more in-depth analysis of the interpersonal relationships, and would benefit from a closer examination of the Romantic period, its correlation to pre-Enlightenment classical influences on understanding of interpersonal relationships, and a deconstruction of the layered telling of the novel.


Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas. “Summa Theologica.” New Advent . Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Online Edition Copyright, 2008. Web. 31 May 2015.

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae: a Concise Translation . Ed. Timothy McDermott. Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1989. Print.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics . Trans. W. D. Ross. Internet Classics Archive: MIT. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.8.viii.html. Web. 31 May 2015.

Daffron, Eric. “Male Bonding: Sympathy and Shelley’s Frankenstein.”  Nineteenth Century Contexts  21.3 (1999): 415-435.

Dickerson, Vanessa D. “The Ghost of a Self: Female Identity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .” Journal of Popular Culture 27.3 (1993): 79-91.

Marcus, Steven. “ Frankenstein : Myths of Scientific and Medical Knowledge and Stories of Human Relations.” Southern Review 38.1 (2002): 188-201.

Mellor, Anne K. “ Frankenstein , Racial Science, and the Yellow Peril.” Nineteenth Century Contexts 23 (2001): 1-28.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein . 1831. New York: Dover Thrift Edition, 1994. Print.

Smith, Allan Lloyd. “’This Thing of Darkness:’ Racial Discourse in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .” Gothic Studies 6.2 (2004): 208-222.


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