Donohoe Period 1
“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
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