“Just one word … plastics,” the statement that alone can summarize Mike Nichols’ 1967 film, The Graduate. However, when Mr. McQuire tells the movie’s main character, Ben Braddock, that there is "a great future in plastics" he finds it irrelevant and escapes to be alone in his room. However this comment surreptitiously creates a parallel to everything we see in Ben’s life. Whether it be the apprehensive relationship with his parents, an alienated affair with Mrs. Robinson, or the near unsuccessful pursuit in finding the man within, the film conveys a strong sense of how fear and self doubt can lead to the ultimate downfall in a person.
Over zealous, and a tendency to meddle, Mr. and Mrs. Braddock are aimlessly suffocating their son. Sculpting and molding his life to their vision of the ideal son, creating a flawless lifestyle for outsiders to see, as though he were plastic. However in creating this artificial life they deprive him of growing into the socially confident man he so desperately wants to be. Such as when Ben indicates the he is “a little worried about [his] future” Mr. Braddock simply pays no attention and continues to push him into awkward social events. It then becomes clear to the audience that Ben is nothing more than a personal puppet to his parents, one that fulfills everything they ask and never defies them. That is why we often find Benjamin sitting carelessly alone and deeply focused upon his fish tank, the only element in his life that we feel he has control over.
Time after time Benjamin is seen backing down to people of higher stature, such as his parents and their friends, so it does not take long before the viewers can presume he is not one for confrontation. We can also assume by Ben’s apparent awkward and isolated personality that to this point he has led a dull conservative life, quick to turn down any exciting opportunities to come his way. This is why, at a party his parents throw, Ben appears to almost be in...
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