The State of Despair in American Beauty Essay

The State of Despair in American Beauty Essay

Length: 1418 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The State of Despair in American Beauty

In life, everyone must make choices. Choices give an individual the freedom to decide upon the path to which they will follow. Since it’s beginnings, the film making industry has focused on showing the direct relationship between the choices that people make and the resulting consequences they must face. In the movie American Beauty, the character of Lester Burnham must make many important choices that could either lead to his ultimate happiness, or draw him further into his despair.

In the movie American Beauty, it is evident that Lester Burnham is in a state of despair. Lester’s dull and monotonous voice introduces the audience to his daily routine of life. When Lester declares plain and simply, “This is my neighborhood, this is my street, this is my life,” he exposes the lifelessness and unhappiness to which he has become accustomed. The hopeless tone that Lester has set continues when he cynically comments, “jerking off in the shower will be the high point of my day.” He realizes his family life is no better when he becomes aware that both his disdainful wife and his troubled daughter consider him “a gigantic loser.” It is easy to recognize and understand Lester’s disheartenment through analysis and symbolic car scene. In this scene, Lester sits slouched down in the back seat with a look of emptiness while his daughter Jane sits up front, next to his wife Caroline who is driving the car. The symbolism is shown through Carolyn driving the car, as she drives the family (especially Lester). She has evolved into the decision-maker, and leader of the Burnham family. Sitting in the backseat, Lester avoids further conflict with his wife, leading him to become an even unhappier and more desperate person. It is understandable why Lester feels like a sedated visitor in his own life. It is also easy to empathize with Lester when he states that he feels “in many ways already dead.”

For Lester, his life at work is nothing better than his life at home. After fourteen years on the job, Lester is asked by an efficiency expert at work to write a memo justifying his position. This requires making the first of several choices, which will ultimately affect his future happiness. Should he justify his job and continue to provide for his family or choose freedom and a new life? To answer this question the audience must examine...


... middle of paper ...


....” This is the first time in the movie in which it is apparent that he wants to know his own family and is just working out how to go about doing it. But it also allows Lester to be happy, happy for Jane to experience the “best thing he once had” a true loving relationship with Carolyn. Lester finds himself not sad that he is now missing that loving relationship, but happy that he got the chance to experience it at one point. By the end of the movie, Lester actually seems sincerely happy in his thoughts, in his mind and in his life. This is the happiness that he has been searching for all along.

The discovery of happiness and the extinction of despair are two of the greatest feats known to humans. Everyone chooses which of the two will ultimately rule their life, but sometimes life itself can get in the way. Lester Burnham is a man with limits, a man without the freedom to know himself, but with the ability to overcome these boundaries. Throughout this movie Lester is taken down a path to which hedonism is the roadblock and morality is the hidden passage. For some the choice will never be able to be made, but to Lester, life was much too beautiful to ignore the possibilities.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Film American Beauty Essay

- The Film American Beauty      In life, everyone must make choices. Choices give an individual the freedom to decide the path which they will follow. In the movie American Beauty, each of the characters has a choice he or she needs to make. The main character, Lester Burnham, is faced with many choices that could either lead to his ultimate happiness or draw him further into his despair. Carolyn Burnham, Lester's wife, is faced with a loveless marriage that exists only because she does not possess the willingness to break the cycle....   [tags: Movie Films American Beauty Essays]

Strong Essays
3373 words (9.6 pages)

Essay about Beauty Is A State Of Mind

- The idea of what is considered beautiful has been conditioned into the human psyche, but still differs from person to person. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary beauty is defined as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit; a beautiful person or thing” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1). The ideal of beauty has been around for centuries beginning with Egyptians wearing braided wigs and eyeliner and the Japanese growing long hair....   [tags: Beauty, Human physical appearance, Aesthetics]

Strong Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

Timeline of American Beauty Essay

- Not long ago, a woman’s success was measured by the success of her husband and her domestic prowess. Today, a woman is presumed successful if she can emulate the standards of beauty portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, this subliminally enforced standard is unattainable to some women, regardless of the quality of their character. Let’s examine how western women went from being pioneering superheroes, to people who measure their worth against airbrushed photographs of impossibly beautiful women....   [tags: Beauty]

Strong Essays
724 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Interpersonal Conflict in the film American Beauty

- When first presented with this assignment, I got very excited to be able to do a paper on this film. I remember seeing this film as a teenager and did not understand the point of it at all, but as I grew up I began to understand it completely. The movie American Beauty is about a family that is going through a very tough time because of lack of communication. There is a lack of communication between the mother and father and of course that puts a damper on the parents relationship with the child....   [tags: communication, american beauty, conflict]

Strong Essays
682 words (1.9 pages)

L'Oréal and the Globalization of American Beauty Essay

- ... Jones acknowledged that and acted accordingly. This was a simple but critical realization that played a vital role in its success. Even though L’Oreal did face a sufficient amount of competition from the big corporate companies such as Unilever and P&G, it never backed down. After holding stocks for 5 years in Helena Rubinstein and Ralph Lauren Fragrances, it took over full control of the two companies in 1988 and 1990, respectively. L’Oreal the continued to make more acquisitions of other health and beauty lines....   [tags: top leading brands in the hair and beauty industry]

Strong Essays
850 words (2.4 pages)

Analysis of Beauty Pageants in American Society Essay

- In American society the promotion of beauty pageants and the like, are in direct relation to the physical and emotional issues arising within women. Like such television shows encouraging and persuading young girls to participate in these activities. Society supports the notion of giving females opportunities to experience and put the act of perfection out. Society puts these females out as role models when they are a complete opposite of how a normal teenage being and young ladies should appear to society on an everyday basis....   [tags: young models, anorexia, beauty pageants]

Strong Essays
1547 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on Crime Against True Beauty

- Eight girls are standing in line at a movie theater. All smiling in a carefree manner that could be expected of any all American teenage girl. However, statistics say that two of these girls bare scars on their bodies that our society would deem, “self-inflicted”. The truth of the matter is, these two girls are wounded by the immense weight of our cultures requirements for beauty. Requirements that can potentially be explained by science, but neither the way in which our society allows itself to be controlled by such mundane fancies nor the effect on the people it oppresses is by any means justified....   [tags: Beauty]

Strong Essays
1049 words (3 pages)

American Beauty Essay

- American Beauty American Beauty tells the story of one man's search for happiness. The film introduces the audience to Lester Burnham, an ordinary- looking married man and father in his forties. Lester is in a loveless marriage. Lester's wife, Carolyn, is so wrapped-up in her real estate career that Lester often claims that Carolyn doesn't even acknowledge him. Furthermore, Lester's daughter, Jane, is completely distant, often claiming how "pathetic" she thinks her father is. Moreover, Lester has dedicated fourteen years to his occupation, and suddenly, he is in danger of losing his job due to downsizing....   [tags: Film Movies American Beauty Essays]

Free Essays
3047 words (8.7 pages)

Essay on Miss All- American Beauty

- An American Beauty rose, as known as Miss All- American Beauty is a fragrant hybrid tea rose, capable of lasting long as a cut flower. The rose is known as America’s national flower. Unfortunately it is prone to decaying and rusting (Jo). In Sam Mendes’ award- winning film American Beauty, these roses can be found throughout. Besides the roses, each character involved is chasing after their version of American beauty. The film’s title is appropriate, it is the reason that the whole plot revolves around the characters’ form of American beauty....   [tags: fragant, rose, girl, beauty]

Strong Essays
1456 words (4.2 pages)

Review of American Beauty Essay

- Review of American Beauty The 1999 Academy Award winning movie American Beauty has many major plots and shows the reality of American life. This movie uses symbolism to get ideas across in many different situations and it shows the actuality of life, it is not always what it looks like on the outside. Lester and Carolyn Burnham seem like they have a perfect marriage and a perfect family life while in turn they are having a lot of marriage problems. Lester is going through a midlife crisis; he quits his high-paying job for a fast food service job at Mr....   [tags: Film Movie American Beauty Essays]

Strong Essays
522 words (1.5 pages)