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Analysis of "Mona Lisa Smile"

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Analysis of "Mona Lisa Smile" Set in the American Housewife circa of the 1950's, the movie, "Mona Lisa Smile" is an inspirational film that explores life through feminism, marriage, and education lead by a modernist teacher at the end of a traditional era. It begins by introducing the lead character, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), a liberal-minded novice professor from California, who lands a job in the art history department at a snobbish, all-girl college, called Wellesley, in the fall of 1953. Despite warnings from her boyfriend Paul (John Slattery) that a Boston Brahmin environment was out of her element, Katherine was thrilled at the prospect of educating some of the brightest young women in the country however; her image of Wellesley quickly fizzles after her first day of class, in which, was more like a baptism by fire. Her smug students flaunted their exhaustive knowledge of the text and humiliated her in front of a supervisor. However, Katherine, determined not to buckle under pressure, departs from the syllabus in order to regain the upper hand. She quickly challenged the girls' idea of what constituted art and exposed them to modern artist not endorsed by the school board.


Bill's interest was now in pursuing Katherine. Connie on the other hand, had a much bigger problem. She did not fit into society's expectations of a woman. She could not find a man that would love her, and Betty made sure that she kept Connie's spirits, and hope for a man in her life, down. Betty constantly reminded Connie that she was unattractive, and that the thought of marriage for her was just about impossible. Betty reassured Connie that the one person that was dating her was only doing so as a favor, which hurt Connie very much. She was beginning to like the person whom she was seeing, and although he showed signs of liking her as well, Betty quickly sabotaged the relationship by lying to Connie, and telling her that he was using her, and had another girlfriend. Connie's concern was not to marry, or seek a career, but to gain acceptance, and to fit into society alone. In the end, the guy that she had falling for, ended up pursing a relationship with her, and Connie came to find out that Betty had been lying to her all along. Connie then sought to find her man, and they ended up pursuing a relationship.


Even the men in this movie frowned upon women who sought a career outside of catering to them. The families in this movie, were set in their own ways, and were just as influential to the roles that women should play in society. Betty's mom was against Betty pursuing a career, and Betty felt that she must assume her role, and marry just as she did. She listened to everything her mother told her, and took her beliefs very seriously. Giselle even talked about her parents splitting up after her father returned from the war. She explained that things just were not the same. Society was going through a tremendous change, and affecting the lives of everyone. "Mona Lisa Smile" is a great reminder of what it was like to live when a woman did not have a voice. However, if this movie were to take place on a campus today, society would not have played a factor in the movie. Both women and men would be equal on campus, and their educations would be held of equal value. In today's society, it is very important for a female to educate herself and to have a career. We are a feminist society in that all people should be treated equally however; sometime we could all use a Katherine Watson in our lives, as a reminder that women do have a voice.

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