Michelangelo, the legendary and distinguished artist in the Italian Renaissance, philosophically proclaimed that he lived “in sin, to kill myself I live; no longer my life my own, but sin's; my good is given to me by heaven, my evil by myself, by my free will, of which I am deprived” (Brainyquote.com). The constant battle of free will resonating inside Michelangelo’s head correlates within the troubled central characters in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. Daniel Plainview and Hazel Motes are ideal illustrations of a man overcome with many desires and motivations and burdened with their perceived absence of freedom. Throughout There Will Be Blood directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, the overall existence of sanity is driven away by the vague and obscene hand of free will shown through the lack of affection towards others and the general aversion of faith to prove free will has the potential to either produce glorified holiness or a powerful depravation.
The general absence of affection towards others in There Will Be Blood and Wise Blood exemplifies the ability for man’s free will to be corrupted and generate evil. In the midst of a gory murder, the dying false prophet cries out for help and begins confessing his sins to which the ruthless Hazel Motes replies by saying “Two things I cant stand- a man that ain’t true and one that mocks what is. You shouldn’t ever have tampered with me if you didn’t want what you got” and then begins to examine “the front of the Essex to see if there had been any damage done to it. The bumper had a few splirts of blood on it but that was all.” (O’ Connor 207). Hazel Motes’ lack of heart towards others is overwhelmingly illuminated in his ballistic rage to take a man’s life and then be more concerned about his car than the emotions that come with murder. O’ Connor explicitly creates Motes as man constantly on the brink of insanity, and leaves his own free will around him to push himself off the cliff. The ability for humans to make their own decisions, for example Motes’ naïve murder of the prophet, only further highlights on the consistent failures that surround the human nature. In There Will Be Blood, Daniel Plainview’s alcoholic and forlorn rage eventually overflows on his deaf son H.W. and without thought proclaims “I don't even know who you are because you have none of me in you, you're someone else's. This anger, your maliciousness, backwards dealings with me. You're an orphan from a basket in the middle of the desert. And I took you for no other reason than I needed a sweet face to buy land. Did you get that?” Near the end of the film, the gradual demise of Daniel is rapidly sped up, as he now shows absolutely no affection towards the only person he has been able to keep in his life. Paul Thomas Anderson explodes the ruthlessness of Daniel Plainview by showing his consistency in corrupting his own free will and a character that never feels free from the burden of success. Plainview’s constant personal choice to aggressively pursue money and success leads to his fabricated view of H.W. as “competition” causing Daniel to further push himself into desolate solitude and eventually insanity. Anderson powerfully demonstrates the ability for humans to misuse our own free will leading to depression and misery. Throughout Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor and There Will Be Blood directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Hazel Motes and Daniel Plainview’s overbearing lack of affection towards others exemplifies their horrific abuse of their own free will.
Faith and religion inside Wise Blood and There Will Be Blood is constantly detested and repulsed revealing the overall potential for free will to be tainted and cause destruction. Hazel Motes ruthlessly yearns for the expansion of his Godless ideas and horrifically rejects the principles behind Christianity: “I preach there