American Beauty Essay 29

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“There are so many different types of love. There is little kid love, teenage love, friendship love, family love, marriage love and parent to children love. All of these different types of love have similar meanings but have a little something different making them unique.” (Bartinelli). This statement is the perfect way to explain love. Even though “love” is a universal word that millions of people use to describe their strong feelings for another person, the interpretation of the word is unique to each individual. There are no set rules or requirements that dictate to a person how they must feel or act in order to use the word love. No relationship is ever completely the same as another, and every couple is different, yet they all use the same word to describe their feelings: love. A more specific example is the relationship between Lester and Carolyn Burnham in the film American Beauty. Lester and Carolyn possessed negative qualities that led to several conflicts with each other and, eventually, overshadowed the positive aspects that kept their love alive. A relationship is between two people, each with their own characteristics that can be either loved or loathed by the other person. In the case of Lester and Carolyn’s relationship, each possesses a few negative characteristics that end up being the couple’s downfall in the movie. One trait in specific would be Carolyn’s constant focus on surface appearances. It becomes apparent to the audience that Carolyn tries to hide her imperfect lifestyle by manipulating the appearances around her to look perfect, which ends up affecting her and Lester’s relationship. Carolyn is aware that Lester is truly unhappy with his job, but she couldn’t really care less about Lester’s feelings. The only thing she is concerned with is maintaining her unnatural lifestyle that she considers perfect. Of course, Carolyn’s perception of a perfect lifestyle does not include having a husband that is unemployed, so when Lester quits his job she begins to secretly despise him for ruining her perfect image. Lester continues shattering her perfect façade when he gets a job at a fast-food restaurant and buys a 1970 Pontiac Firebird: a car Lester claims he has always wanted. This perceived immaturity and irresponsibility makes Carolyn resent Lester more and more, increasing the tension in the house. Lastly, Carolyn proves her obsession for perfection when Lester was on the couch kissing her neck, and she replies with “you are going to spill beer on the couch” killing the mood. Lester becomes angry by Carolyn’s reaction and screams at her. He exclaims, “It’s just a couch!” trying to make a point that material goods aren’t as important as life. The two both come to a realization that their priorities are completely different and that their relationship is being torn apart as a result. Another negative aspect of Lester and Carolyn’s relationship that causes tension between them is their lack of communication. It is obvious that Lester and Carolyn are truly miserable with their lives, but they try to hide it from everyone and pretend to be happy. The movie emphasizes the fact that Lester and Carolyn rarely talk, or even do anything together. The only time the whole family is at the same place is at the dinner table, and when they do talk to each other there it is a forced conversation that they pretend to be focused on. On the rare occasion that Lester and Carolyn do talk, they usually end up in a fight. As aforementioned, the scene where Lester and Carolyn are alone at home is a great example of this. In this scene in American Beauty, Lester tries to express his feelings with Carolyn and asks when she “became so joyless”, to which she replies, “Joyless? I'm not joyless. There happens to be a lot about me that you don't know, Mr. Smarty Man. There's plenty of joy in my life.” and leaves their conversation with that. Lester then tries to make a move on Carolyn, but his attempt miserably fails when Carolyn’s...
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