Fear or fright?

As I was rereading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper this morning, this phrase, which I hadn’t particularly noticed before, stood out to me:  ‘You will be frightened, often, but never fear them (the powers of the Dark).’

What’s the difference between being frightened and fearing? Having consulted the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s, I think I understand that the distinction between fright and fear has to do with onset and duration.  Fright can be defined as a sudden intense feeling of fear, excited by unexpected danger; fear has an element of anticipation and expectation of something unpleasant, painful, or threatening.

So what I believe the author is saying is that while it is natural to sometimes be frightened, confronted without warning with startling or dangerous circumstances,  we must not dwell on those experiences and let them grow into a belief that bad things will happen to us around every bend.

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