American Beauty - Molly McMahon Professor Swanson...

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Molly McMahon McMahon 1 Professor Swanson EN101-H3/VOA Prompt 7 25 November 2008 It’s Hard to Stay Mad When There’s So Much Beauty in the World… American Beauty explores different aspects of American culture including love, family, happiness, sexuality, and freedom. The title refers to various qualities of beauty from a perspective of reality verse the American aesthetic of beauty, which was what Angela Hayes, the Burnham family, and the Fitts family strived for so miserably. In the end, this was what led them to their epiphanies; however, at the expense of the main character Lester Burnham, whose eye-opening experience ended so unfortunately. Although interpretation of this film requires a great deal of reading between the lines, it is the obscurity of Ball’s voice, and the daring decision of Mendes to remove material from the original script that make this movie so poignant and deeply meaningful to every individual who watches it. One of the unifying characteristics in the film was that so many of the characters seemed trapped: trapped by their lives, their jobs, themselves, their parents, and their fears. Many of the characters' problems stemmed from their failure to develop or maintain a coherent identity. Throughout the movie, each of the characters searched to define themselves by standards of beauty which really do not exist. Lester Burnham found his identity by separating his sense of self-worth from his job and his home life, abandoning all responsibility. It was not until the very end of the
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McMahon 2 movie that Lester realized that freeing himself from the trappings of life did not necessarily mean that he had to become irresponsible but rather take on more responsibility as a father and role model for his daughter, and as an adult. But in order to understand this, Lester, who had become so blinded by his willingness to walk the straight and narrow, had to relive his youth in order to obtain a beautiful life. In other words, he had to recapture the moment that he could last remember his life as happy and enjoyable. This was when he was an eighteen year old boy doing nothing else, but flipping burgers, partying, and getting laid. What makes this film so unique is that Lester’s quest for a
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American Beauty - Molly McMahon Professor Swanson...

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