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Even this simple paper is beautiful: American beauty as a philosophical primer

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  1. Introduction.
    1. American Beauty as a film.
    2. No place for people who see the inherent beauty.
  2. Laura Mulvey's essay 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema'.
  3. The transition.
  4. Lester's change - sudden and drastic.
  5. A disparity between beauty and being ordinary.
  6. The process of self-discovery that Jane and Lester go through.
  7. Conclusion.

An American Beauty, in the most literal of senses, refers to a breed of roses. The breed of roses first seen in the movie of the same name are most likely that breed. The appropriateness of that name is without question. The American Beauty is an aesthetically pleasing rose. It is, as the name implies, beautiful. Yet American Beauty, as a film, begs the viewer, in its tagline, to ?Look Closer.? This simple two word phrase was on movie billboards across the country, and were in the trailers for the movie. In fact, the phrase is visible in Lester Burnham's cubicle during the movie. This command also forces the viewer to take a deeper look at what may seem ugly on the surface. In the course of this paper, I plan to discuss how the movie, through its words and its cinematography, makes the claim that beauty is not limited to the sheer aesthetic beauty that has been the definition for so long. The movie also suggests that there is no place for people who see the inherent beauty in the world among those who do not, who constitute the majority. Those who do not see this beauty will be unhappy. I will also discuss how Plato's famous ?Allegory of the Cave? relates to the cases of two of the protagonists, Lester and Jane Burnham. Furthermore, I also aim to explore how Mulvey explains Ricky Fitt's plausibility as a narrator.

[...] This is why she goes home with a gun, most likely with the intent of killing Lester. However, finding Lester already dead, she realizes that this is not what she wanted. She cries, collapsing in his closet. I make the claim that Carolyn's feeling of powerlessness comes from her inability to appreciate life's beauty. Lester was in the same situation, which is why he says that he is trying to help her when they fight over the sofa. If one were to look very carefully at the sofa, it could be explained thus. [...]


[...] It is because Angela only sees beauty as skin-deep. The case of Angela falls into roughly the same concept as that of Carolyn. She holds her physical beauty so dearly that she fails to recognize any other aspect of herself. This is why Ricky's words pierce her so deeply. Angela, in her fight with Jane, claims that she is her friend. Ricky sees through the facade of friendship, ?looking closer? as the movie suggests, and says, ?She's not your friend. [...]


[...] American Beauty is a film of such depth, that even a paper of this length could not completely exhaust the topic of beauty. There are other uses of the color red in the movie, not only the concept of aesthetic pleasure. I also was not able to cover the concept of whether there is a place where those who truly understand beauty would be understood themselves. The answer to that is not as simple, and would go well into the world of speculation, outside of the bounds of the movie. [...]

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