The sample essay on American Beauty Jane deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Where is the beauty in a plastic bag, a deceased bird, a dead person? Strange questions you may think if you haven’t seen the film American Beauty but it is one person’s obsession with beauty that creates a fascination and a particular attraction towards it that makes it all comprehensible.
Ricky Fitz, the new next door neighbour to the troubled Burnham family, adds a new dimension to their mundane lives, in some cases simplifying their situation and in other cases, complicating it.
Ricky is generally a very interesting character that really captures an audience and entices them to look at life from another angle. He has a poor, harmful family relationship that he looks to escape from through change, a characteristic of all the characters in the film.
He shares a sensual and physical relationship with the girl next door, Jane, whilst he also has a strong relationship with her father, Lester, a some what complacent and immature character. It is Ricky’s vision of beauty though, that really makes him stand out and makes him so quizzical.
Ricky is generally a very insightful person, curious and up front. He is very honest about his feelings and his past, illustrated many times, but particularly when Jane asked him why he was sent to a mental institution and he was able to answer calmly and confidently.
He dresses in a very specific way which is ordered and neat, described by another character, Angela, as a bible salesman. This is understandable due to the regimented life he lived, ruled by an ex-army officer, his father.
His house is very symmetrical and cold, a symbol of the lack of connection between family members. Everything in the house is in perfect order and very clean; the slightest thing out of place would have been recognised suggested by the situation when Ricky’s father was able to work out that Ricky had been in his room, violently reacting. His bedroom is very orderly, clothes neatly folded and shelves stacked very neatly. His room expresses no colour or warmth, it is just an imperfect and futile room.
Emotionally, Ricky comes across as strong, saying, “I don’t get scared” but was institutionalised for losing control and being pushed over the edge. Everything bad about Ricky’s character could be blamed on the morose state of his family relationship. It is worth contemplating that if Ricky didn’t get out when he did he could have turned out like his mother, an abused, reclusive person. As a result she was always on edge and couldn’t relax around her husband. Ricky was abused by his father, but obviously not to the extent of his mother.
We know this by the two scenes when he was physically assaulted by his father, yet he just accepted it. The family is a picture of dysfunction, illustrated by the scene when they are all sitting on the couch and the mother is trying to face the other way and avoid confrontation, the father is sitting upright, trying to act as the boss and Ricky on the other end absorbing the awkward silence of the moment. Ricky is eighteen and yet his father still does not know how to act around him or hold a proper conversation with him.
There is also no trust between father and son depicted by the scene when Ricky had supply a urine sample yet he deceived his father by giving him a false supply. It is like his father saw his role, solely to teach Ricky structure and discipline. When Ricky eventually leaves, although a touching moment, there is no real emotion shown, he was not sad to leave. Ricky found a rare and hidden beauty in Jane, the girl from the adjacent house. To the average person, Jane is portrayed as a confused, unattractive and depressed person.
However Ricky sees a form of beauty that we can’t, attracting the two toward each other. Jane is strangely comforted by the attention of being filmed by Ricky making her curious about what he found interest about her. She even believes that she is unattractive portrayed by her interested in plastic surgery. Ricky remains totally focussed on Jane. He sees that no other girl has this kind of beauty that she has represented by his filming when he avoids the stereotypical beauty in Angela and zooms in on Jane’s reflection in the mirror.
The development of their relationship allows Jane to open up and become more honest to herself and others; she starts to develop some of the personal traits of Ricky. A good example of this is when she stands up to her father and tells him that she is embarrassed by the way he acts when Angela is staying over. Something that she wouldn’t have done before she met Ricky. Despite growing in similarity, when they contemplated a life away from home, their differences become obvious as Jane still feels for her family despite not sharing a great relationship with them.
Lester Burnham, a casual and unenthusiastic character, is almost brought to life and re-ignited by Ricky. Arguably it was the beauty of Angela that was responsible for the rebirth but his encounter with Ricky gave him confidence and mental strength to change depicted through the party scene when Ricky calmly and boldly quit his job, an issue that most of us would have a lot of trouble doing. Lester responded by say, “You have just become my personal hero”, so impressed by his actions.
It was the turning point in Lester’s “stupid little life” when he started to take responsibility for his actions and do something about his mundane life. He became more assured and gained a belief in himself that he had never had before. We can draw this conclusion due to his actions, such as buying a car he had always wanted, quit his job and started to work out. The two share a close relationship but not as close as Ricky’s dad thinks. It is this misunderstanding that brings about Lester’s death.
Therefore it is arguable to say that the relationship had a positive and negative effect for Lester. Ricky does not see beauty in a rose, perfection, or a slim blonde but in obscure, natural elements. He describes beauty as though “God is looking at you”. The most beautiful thing he has ever filmed was a plastic bag, describing the electricity in it and that “this bag was just dancing with me”. To us the bag is just swirling around in the air, but Ricky can see the beauty in the lovely transient movement of the bag. Earlier in the film Jane and Angela caught him filming a dead bird.
To him this was another form of beauty as was Lester’s dead body, with his head resting on the table, blood streaming from his head. It makes Ricky happy to think that Lester was now free and contented. It seems that the seductive beauty that Ricky sees is the only thing that is capable of making him drop his guard and show any sort of emotion. Teeming with tears, he explains, “Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world that I feel I can’t take it. ” It is just evidence that beauty has such a great impact on people, even the most mentally strong.