American Beauty - Theme

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The theme of beauty, and specifically American beauty, emerges through all of the main characters in the movie. The American Beauty could be the sultry teen Angela, the epitome of blonde American sex appeal. Carolyn's obsessive tending her rose garden is a pervasive and double-sided symbol of beauty, as her flowers are a thin cover for the ugliness in her life. Perhaps the greatest messenger of beauty in the film is Ricky Fitts, the eccentric pot-smoking teenager who through his camera lens perceives beauty everywhere he looks, so much beauty that he feels his "heart is going to cave in." Regardless, beauty is found everywhere in this film and is portrayed by various characters, symbols, and scenes." Lester and Carolyn are bonds that no longer hold them together. Indeed, all that binds them together is their own inertia about making a move to change their situation. Each is looking elsewhere for what the marriage once gave them. Lester at the beginning of the film still holds the traditional role as breadwinner, but he abandons this when he is fired. He does get another job at a fast-food restaurant, but his wife has been pursuing a career in real estate at the same time, showing that she wants to assume the role of breadwinner and may soon not need Lester at all." At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Lester in his own words as the narrator. We are given a portrait of a man, who in his early forties, is stagnating in life. He is involved in a loveless, sexless, marriage with an over-controlling wife, Carolyn. He is working at a job in which he finds no meaning. And, as a father, he is held in utter contempt by his only daughter, Jane. Lester is a man that possesses a passive anima, an aspect that has made him reliant on the women in his life for its representation: his mother, his wife Carolyn, and eventually in the film by Angela Hayes, a high-school-age friend of his daughter. Throughout this process, Lester begins what might be called a...
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