Reem Badr Professor Motlagh
26 February 2015
Breakfast at Tiffany’s and its Message of Moral Damnation
In the process of adapting Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s into the iconic movie directed by Blake Edwards, a number of key changes have been made. Be them the alternate ending, the alteration to the sequence of events, the addition and deletion of certain characters or the various ore subtle changes. One thing that has definitely been transferred to the film, though, is moral damnation and a doctrine implying that the number and gravity of moral failings committed by a person consequentially decrease his status in some king of moral hierarchy, decreasing the quality of life and the compassion that person is entitled to forever. In 1966, an article titled Importance of physical attractiveness in dating behavior was published by a group of scientists lead by Elaine Hatfield and a group of her colleagues. The article hypothesizes that successful, committed relationships are more often than not formed between two people more or less on the same level of physical attractiveness. This theory, widely known as the “Matching Hypothesis”, can be easily observed in the choices of casting in the vast majority of movies. Although this might have been a conscious decision on the parts of the filmmakers in some cases, it is much more likely that the culture of these filmmakers the widespread belief of that hypothesis that is deeply ingrained in said culture has led to an unconscious decision to portray most onscreen relationships in its light. This unintended meaning, unconsciously formed and conveyed as it may be, reaches the audience and makes itself known to them on some level (Ryan and Lenos). The “Matching Hypothesis” regards compatibility and partner choice specifically with regards to physical attractiveness; other criteria, less tangible and therefore more difficult to measure and observe by any degree of certainty, are parts of the inherent beliefs of society. These criteria vary per individual and the means by which people measure compatibility can include
economic status, educational background, and social prominence among other things (Shackelford, Schmitt, and Buss). A major link between Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the cinematic adaptation directed by Edwards is the view of morality as one of these criteria. Capote’s Holly Golightly is clearly painted as morally flawed to say the least: she is portrayed to have stolen repeatedly, albeit out of necessity, in her childhood yet she continues to take part in theft for nothing more than her own enjoyment and “sort of to keep [her] hand in”, she convinced the nameless narrator to partake in theft, portraying it as an act of bravery of sorts, she partook in various acts of deceit not the least of which is the falsification of her identity which is shown to be false and the incidence on which she deceived her husband into thinking that she is returning with him, not to mention the way by which she makes a living, by being a call girl of sorts and her scheming to marry wealthy men solely for their money. She had no qualms in getting involved with her friend’s fiancé, or using said friend among others for her own personal gains (Capote). The list of the character flaws and moral shortcomings of Holly Golightly is nothing if not extensive. This moral inferiority is the reason she had to end up where she did, a lone fugitive in a strange country. There was simply no other alternative. Every relationship Holly ventured into was driven by exploitation and was superficial at best. The only exception perhaps being her relationship with the narrator. Said narrator, however, was seen to have homosexual tendencies as was the conclusion of a large portion of both readers and literary critics who alluded to the portrayal of Joe Bell’s bar as a gay bar,...
Cited: Breakfast at Tiffany 's. Dir. Blake Edwards. Perfs. Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard. DVD. Paramount Pictures, 1961
Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany 's: A Short Novel and Three Stories. New York: Random House, 1958. Print.
Pugh, Tison. "Capote 's Breakfast at Tiffany’s." Explicator 61.1 (2002): 51. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
Ryan, Michael, and Melissa Lenos. An Introduction to Film Analysis: Technique and Meaning in Narrative Film. London: Continuum, 2012. Print.
Shackelford, Todd K., David P. Schmitt, and David M. Buss. "Universal Dimensions of Human Mate Preferences." Personality and Individual Differences 39.2 (2005): 447-58. Web.
Walster, Elaine, Vera Aronson, Darcy Abrahams, and Leon Rottman. "Importance of Physical Attractiveness in Dating Behavior." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 4.5 (1966): 508-16. Web.
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