A discussion of the american dream as represented in "American Beauty" and "The Great Gatsby"

Essay by jackal8High School, 10th grade August 2005

download word file, 6 pages 4.5

Downloaded 94 times

The American Dream in American Beauty

The concept of a blanket American Dream to suit all people is exposed as wrong in Mendes's American Beauty. By building a conformist community where the perception as opposed to actual happiness is chased, is a key theme in the film. The director uses characterisation to explore the effect the American Dream has had on the three central characters. Mendes challenges the credibility of such a blanket dream, and the concept of spirituality and beauty being lost in the process of blindly chasing a perceived goal of happiness.

The context of the film and the American dream evolves around the white picket fence, money, and lastly youth. Due to the conformist community where the film is set- established by setting and the row of endless similar looking houses, the characters in the film do not know what they want exactly. Some become so self-centred that they lose sight of beauty and happiness, and ultimately follow a blind path to what seems like happiness.

Caroline is the wife, and through characterization, acting and dialogue, is portrayed as a self centred, money driven person. She likens self worth to business success. The character is similar to many in the context of the film, where women enter the workforce, and become extremely career driven. Though she is completely unhappy, she follows the philosophy of "to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times". This follows on the theme explored in both texts of reality versus illusion. Mendes uses the prop of the seemingly commonplace plastic bag to contrast with the Lolita like conventional beauty of Angela. From the outside, and the context the film, it would seem Angela possesses beauty. However Mendes through characterization portrays Angela as an illusion, and uses the unconventional...