Of Mice and Men and American Beauty Essay

1431 Words Nov 27th, 2011 6 Pages
What insights into the American Dream are offered through the novella Of Mice and Men and the film American Beauty? In your essay you must consider the influences of context and the importance of techniques in shaping meaning.

Of Mice and Men, a 1937 novella by John Steinbeck and American Beauty, a 1999 film directed by Sam Mendes, offer various insights into the American Dream and are both contextually driven. Both texts present the possibility of different pursuits of the American Dream and portray a multiplicity of challenges imposed by the societies of their contexts. In Of Mice and Men (OMM), through literary techniques, Steinbeck conveys the importance of the Dream of land ownership and companionship during the difficult times of
…show more content…
As such, the Dream of land ownership brings hope and a positive life direction that combined with friendship can provide a place of belonging to endure times of great difficulties.

Contrastingly, Mendes, in his AB, presents the American Dream as the pursuit of happiness and freedom in a materialistic, status-driven, conformist society. Lester is restricted by his contemporary, globalised society and feels ‘sedated’, losing a sense of direction in life. At the start of the film, Lester’s imprisonment is symbolised by several shots of him looking through windows and his reflection in a screen of cells of numbers. His rebellion against the grasp of his image-driven society is highlighted in the scene immediately after he quits his job as he sings along with the nondiegetic energetic music. An upbeat mood is created and this symbolises his transition to liberty- his pursuit of this depicted through his acquisition of the sporty convertible, a relaxed lifestyle and a job free of ‘responsibility’. Similarly, Ricky also pursues this sense of happiness and freedom, depicted in the plastic bag scene. The extreme close up shot of Ricky’s wide eyes looking in the direction of the dancing plastic bag emphasises his fascination of the ‘entire

Related Documents