Empathy In Matt King's Masculinity In The Descendants

763 Words4 Pages
Throughout the past century, there has been a diversity of movies produced from romance, to action, to comedy, and to an endless variety of genres. Each film has a distinctive purpose within its plot to capture the audience’s interest. In 2011, an Oscar winning, comedy-drama film was released called The Descendants. This film displays the events of a husband, two daughters, and friends coping with an ill wife who unexpectedly suffers after a boating accident. While tending to the care of his wife, Matt King discovers several unforeseen circumstances about his marriage with Elizabeth King and rethinks his oblivious position in his family life alongside his two daughters, Alexandra and Scottie King. Additionally, Matt King’s family is a descendant of Hawaiian royalty and missionaries thus leading to King’s…show more content…
Within The Descendants, Matt King evolves from his apathetic self to an empathic character to his family and friends. According to According to Frans De Waal, empathy is “the process by which we gather information about someone else” (De Waal, 86). In other terms, empathy is the ability for one to understand another’s feelings. Empathy is commonly mistaken for sympathy. Sympathy refers to feeling for another’s situation and wanting to improve one’s condition. Emotional arousal helps one demonstrate empathy because this allows us to care and has a more cognitive approach. At the beginning of the film, King is viewed as a busy lawyer and has very little interest in his family life as King even refers to himself as the “back-up” parent. As portrayed in the film, empathy is inherent in humans as King changes his behaviour positively as revealed through King’s encounters with his in-laws, his wife’s lover, Brian Speer, his family friends, and King’s ties to the land. When King gets word from Elizabeth’s doctor that she will not recover from the injuries, King
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