Analysis Of American Beauty Essay Research Paper

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Analysis Of American Beauty Essay, Research Paper Why is American Beauty one of my most favorite movies of all time? Well, let me count the ways. American Beauty is a story about a middle-class white American family, trying to pursue the American Dream. Their different versions of the American Dream are what pull them apart from reaching it as a family. There are two major themes that really spoke out to me. The first theme deals with the idea of appearances. Carolyn Burnham, played by Annette Bening, was enthralled by the quote stated by her secret mister. “In order to be successful, one must portray the image of success at all times.” This quote itself exemplifies the whole idea of achieving the American Dream- not necessarily to reach the ultimate goal, but to portray

the image of reaching that ultimate goal. For example, I was taught that the ultimate goal would include everything from receiving a college education, getting married, and having kids. Once I receive that, will I really be a better and happier person? Or once I reach that, will I have the opportunity to say that I reached my goal, hence portraying the image of being better and happier. The idea can really apply to everything I do in life. Am I really a happy, fun-loving person? Or am I just portraying the image of being a happy, fun-loving person? Am I really a confident person? Or am I just portraying the image of being a confident person? Am I really a good, moral person? Or am I just portraying the image of being a good, moral person? These existential thoughts have been

around since the beginning of time, with such writers/ thinkers as Freud or Machiavelli. But the idea of re-introducing these ideas in a late 20th Century setting really makes it all the more powerful. The second theme that I wish to talk about it is “What does it mean to be beautiful.” In context of American values, three images make a person complete: beauty, happiness, and success. In order to be beautiful, once must be happy. In order to be happy, one must be successful. In order to be successful, one must be beautiful. And vice versa. Think about it. In order to be beautiful, one must be happy. (I.e. Beauty is defined by outer presentation and appearance, confidence, and personality- all components of happiness). In order to be happy, one must be successful. (I.e.

Happiness is defined by the amount of money you have, the amount of children you have, if your marriage/family life is rewarding, if your job is something you enjoy and get paid well for- all dealing with being successful). In order to be successful, one must be beautiful. (I.e. Appearances play an important role in how people perceive you, how much you appeal to people, and how much money you’re going to make). It all goes hand in hand. It forms a triangle, which we as Americans, must attempt to strive for every day. The characters of the film exemplify the constant struggle between these three components. First of all, let’s examine Lester, played by Kevin Spacey. Lester realizes that he was not happy at his job, so he decides to quit and applies at the one job that makes

him happy- one at a fast food restaurant. His wife Carol thinks it is the worst mistake he has ever made. Why? Because happiness equals success. It does not matter if Lester is truly and completely happy with his new job. If he does not have a moneymaking and executive job, then he cannot be seen as successful. And because he cannot be seen as successful, he cannot be seen as happy. Carol on the other hand, exemplifies that one can be successful, but not be happy. She may be trying her hardest to “project this image” of success, but deep in her heart, she is not happy with her life or her being. In fact, Carol uses her house as a scapegoat of presenting this false happiness. If you notice, she spends many hours trimming and grooming her roses (which happen to be called