The Rhetoric of American Beauty: a Value Analysis

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THE RHETORIC OF AMERICAN BEAUTY: A VALUE ANALYSIS

A Thesis
Presented to
The Graduate Faculty of The University of Akron

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts

Jessica L. Papajcik
December, 2006

THE RHETORIC OF AMERICAN BEAUTY: A VALUE ANALYSIS

Jessica L. Papajcik

Thesis

Approved:

Accepted:

__________________________
Advisor
Mary E. Triece

__________________________
Interim Director of the School
Dr. Carolyn M. Anderson

__________________________
Committee Member
Dr. Patricia S. Hill

__________________________
Interim Dean of the College
Dr. James M. Lynn

__________________________
Committee Member
Dr. N. J. Brown

__________________________
Dean of the Graduate School
Dr. George R. Newkome

__________________________
Date

ii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This thesis has been a fulfilling journey that would not be possible without the support and encouragement of a number of people. I would first like to acknowledge Dr. Mary Triece, who has awakened me to a world in which I finally feel that I belong to. Her passion for rhetoric and history has been, and will continue to be, an endearing inspiration. Her wisdom and expertise is not without the utmost admiration. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Patricia Hill and Dr. N. J. Brown. Your guidance and encouragement has been fundamental to this process. Supporting me from the very beginning, it is with the greatest sincerity I acknowledge my family and my husband. I would never be who I am today without the love and generosity of my parents, Terri and Bill, and without the strength and patience of my husband, Adam.

Lastly, it is with the deepest gratitude that I acknowledge Dr. William Harpine, who brings me to tears of awe when I say his name. He has been, for years, my guiding light, my motivation, and my inspiration. He has always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. It is with this that I offer my token of sincere appreciation to Dr. William Harpine. I will always be indebted.

iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................... vi CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION ...........................................................................................................1 II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE.........................................................................................3 Theoretical Framework ............................................................................................8 IV. VALUE ANALYSIS AS RHETORICAL CRITICISM ............................................11 Sam Mendes’s American Beauty ...........................................................................11 Film as Cultural Text..............................................................................................12 Defining Values......................................................................................................13 Defining Culture.....................................................................................................14 Methodology ..........................................................................................................15 V. ANALYSIS..................................................................................................................18 Synopsis..................................................................................................................19 Identifying Values and Value Systems ..................................................................21 Value in the Characters...................................................................................21 Value in the Images ........................................................................................29 Untouched Value ............................................................................................37 iv...
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