American Beauty Character Analysis

Better Essays
While the term ‘significant other’ subsumes, theoretically speaking, any person influencing one’s life to a distinctive extent, such as friends, members of the family, partners, idealised absent others such as spirits or idols, this thesis lays a focus on the partners or love interests the antiheroes decide to get close to. In an incestuous interpretation of Shame, Sissy could definitely embody Brandond’s significant other, apart from the fact that she plays a big part in his life anyway; however, there is another person significant to Brandon’s change, revealing his inner sufferings: Marianne, his colleague. On a date with her (the only date in the entire film), he speaks in a less reserved way, also more fluently, grins almost like a teenager,…show more content…
Similar to Revolutionary Road, wife and husband’s different notions of self-fulfilment and dealing with a disappointing daily life contribute to severe problems in their relationship. American Beauty, however, does not emphasise the inability to compensate for a failed marriage between two partners who have forgotten how to love each other, but rather highlights the relationship between Carolyn, materialistic values and her blind urge to ensure an social power. Lester himself states, “Our marriage is just for show. A commercial for how normal we are; when we are anything but” (American Beauty). Carolyn does her best to keep up appreances according to her idol, Buddy ‘local-real-estate’ King’s principle “In order to be successful, one must project an image of success. At all times.” (ibid.). Lester’s loser qualities, such as his indifferent clumsiness and his lost belief in a satisfying family and work life, do not meet Carolyn’s expectations and need for control, illustrated by her…show more content…
Robinson points out that “[s]elf-control and control of others is not the route toward social power; it is, instead, a certain path toward ulcers, cancer, mental breakdown, and pain” (134), a path Carolyn is definitely walking on. According to critic Kevin Lewin, “[y]ou can't help feeling that Lester typifies thousands of frustrated American men who occasionally flip during their mid-life crises and become something their families no longer recognise” (n.p.), referring to his journey and ‘weird’ behavirous; however, Lester does not recognise his wife either. “Christ, Carolyn! When did you become so... joyless?”, he wonders after Carolyn prefers a clean “four thousand dollar sofa upholstered in Italian silk” (American Beauty) over getting intimate with her husband possibly spilling beer on it. “This isn’t life. This is just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts,” he recognising that his wife has entered an obsessive relationship with a superficial consumer culture, loving success more than him. At a certain point, Lester just does not care anymore and makes no intentions in rescuing his troubles marrigage, but dedicating his time to a compensation of his lost youth, carelessly denying any of his responsibilities as a father or husband. Also Carolyn puts her love affair with success in concrete terms, starting a fling with Buddy Cane, who she admires merely for the prestige and status he represents.
Get Access