Mona Lisa Smile
December 10th, 2012
Part A: Using the movie as a source, how have roles changed in respect to how women are viewed in society since the 1950s? How have things not changed?
Since the 1950s, roles have changed in respect to how women were viewed in society. The film Mona Lisa Smile depicts the traditional ideology of a woman’s role in society as a domestic homemaker as well as the new idea of an educated woman. Education was utilised to teach respectable women how to prepare for marriage, tending a house and raising a family rather than to develop a career outside the home. For example, Wellesley offered an etiquette course that taught women good grooming, traditional values and respectable behaviour deemed appropriate for society. Their source of education was solely based on becoming a subservient accessory to a man’s household. Nowadays, courses are based on providing women with the knowledge they need to achieve a successful career. Society taught women that they were unable to manage both a career and a family; therefore they were obligated to choose life as a domestic homemaker. For instance, when Katherine encourages Joan to apply to Yale law school, where she succeeds in getting admission, she ultimately declines the offer in order to play the traditional role of housewife to Tom. In today’s society, women are effective in managing a successful career as well as a family. If a woman’s husband was to have an affair, she often was encouraged to “look the other way” and tolerate it. For example, Betty became disheartened with woman’s traditional role when she discovered that her husband was having an affair and her mother urged her to silently endure it in order to maintain proper appearances. Divorce for most seemed to be a taboo and was frowned upon by many members of society. The implication was that the woman "couldn't keep a man". Divorce currently is more common than it was in the fifties. Despite the many changes in society...
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