eng300 midterm 2

eng300 midterm 2 - Jonathan Zatz ENG300 Midterm Question 3...

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Jonathan Zatz ENG300 Midterm Question 3 The concept behind Erik Erickson’s ‘psychological moratorium’ is such that adolescents take on different and oftentimes varying identities in order to try them out and find the best fitting ones. In Luc Besson’s The Professional (1994) the young girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman) takes on a plethora of different identities. Mathilda explores traditional roles of women such as being a daughter, a mother, and a lover. However, she also explores various male identities and qualities throughout the movie. Besson illustrates Mathilda as taking on all of these identities at once, and she explores them through her relationship with Leon (Jean Reno). In the beginning of the film it is revealed that Mathilda comes from a dysfunctional home. The audience soon realizes that even at a young age she has taken on adult-like responsibilities and her role as a daughter is blurred. Evidence of this can be seen in her relationship with her brother – she cares for him as a mom would. However, after her family is killed and she first meets Leon he takes on a father-like role in her life. For perhaps the first time in her life Mathilda is being cared for, does not have to fend for herself, is receiving attention, and essentially she has taken on a daughter-like role. Coming from her dysfunctional family she has never really known what it is like to be a child and now she is exploring that role. Although Mathilda and Leon’s relationship seems like that of a father and daughter, at the same time Mathilda also tries the role of a mother. She begins to take on matriarchal qualities which is evidenced by her going food shopping (and providing milk for Leon), cleaning Leon’s apartment, and teaching him how to read and write.
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Mathilda effectively fills Leon’s void of someone to nurture and care for him. Besson makes this mother-son relationship even clearer by characterizing Leon as being extremely immature and seeming like he is a twelve year old stuck in an adult’s body. A key theme in the movie involves Mathilda exploring aspects of sexuality and love. She is at a pivotal time in her life as she is just about the age of puberty and because of this uses Leon to explore the identity of being a lover. The scene in which the two play charades is key to understanding Mathilda’s identity as a lover. She literally tries on a sexual identity by dressing up as sex icons (Madonna and Marilyn Monroe). Throughout the movie Mathilda makes provocative comments and gestures that border on the line of inappropriate and sometimes cross it (as in case when she tells the hotel manager that Leon is her lover). Besson furthers her exploration of sexual identity through her wardrobe style and her serious and oftentimes seductive facial expressions. At this point in the film Leon has assumed the role of being the father
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eng300 midterm 2 - Jonathan Zatz ENG300 Midterm Question 3...

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