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American Tragedy - Lauren Taranow Donohoe Period 1 American...

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Lauren Taranow 9-10-09 Donohoe Period 1 American Tragedy “I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst...” - Lester Burnham, American Beauty In the film American Beauty , the protagonist, Lester Burnham, is a middle-aged man with a wife and daughter. He has no job or income, his wife and he have a terrible marriage, and his daughter refuses to speak to him. In addition, he has a strange sexual attraction to his daughter’s friend, Angela. Throughout the movie these problems become less and less important to him and at the end of the movie, even though he is shot and killed, he experiences a realization that shows him that despite all the bad in the world, it is far outweighed by the beauty. At a glance, this movie has a happy ending where the main character has been released from his bad life after his epiphany that things aren’t so bad. American Beauty teaches a lesson that people must be optimistic, no matter how unfortunate their life is at the moment. This lesson makes American Beauty better than any other tragedy, it meets all of Aristotle’s requirements for a good tragedy, in addition to inspiring empathy from the audience toward the optimistic main character. Aristotle states that a good character must be true to life, contain propriety, be consistent, and be morally good, and Lester, the main character, possesses all of these qualities, plus an additional quality of optimism, which attracts him more to the viewers. He is an interesting character, because he is realistic and true to life, yet at the same time, viewers wish to believe that men like him aren’t that common. The film begins with him leaving the business world where he went to work in business suits every day, and transitioning into a mid-life crisis, where he believes that he can smoke marijuana, lift
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Lauren Taranow 9-10-09 Donohoe Period 1 weights, and seduce underage girls. At the beginning of the film he sates, “both my wife and daughter think I’m this gigantic loser, and… they’re right.” Although unconventional, this proves that he contains propriety, because his actions are appropriate for his station in life as a middle-aged man who is tired of working in the business world and wants to pursue things that make him happy. He starts to buy pot from the boy who moves in next door and begins to spend time with him, making him feel younger. Also, he doesn’t act his age when his daughter’s friend Angela comes to the house and he openly hits on her. He is unsure how to approach Angela at first, because he considers her
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