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Aborted Confidence: An Analysis Of Acting And Role Playing In Revolutionary Road

1832 words - 8 pages

Confidence takes people down the right road, a road they will not want to escape, a road that is not petrified or petrifying, and a road with a positive reflection of life. Revolutionary Road, a fiction novel by Richard Yates, is a skillfully written tragedy based upon a society in Western Connecticut where life appears quite dull on Revolutionary Road. The Wheeler and Campbell families all include members who lack confidence, a characteristic having been aborted at an early age or during tough situations. The absence of confidence and self-esteem causes these individuals to play roles and alter their character in order to obtain a sense of happiness and courage to remain on Revolutionary Road until the day they stare into the picture window and realize the person staring back is a lie.
Frank Wheeler from a young age lacks confidence due to how he is treated by his parents and as a result he pretends to play roles throughout his life. Frank always viewed his father, Earl Wheeler as the definition of a strong man, from his briefcase, to his woodworking tools and shotgun, but lacked the confidence to think he could actually become a tough manly figure too. He feels humiliated by his father on numerous accounts; therefore, Frank equates himself as a failure compared to his father. (SP 1A) He has been yelled at by his father when he tries to use his woodworking shop tools only to ruin them. Frank is jealous that his father has accomplished so much in his life and is good at things from the source of his sturdy, masculine hands. But, Frank continues to emulate his father’s virile image by playing with his briefcase. Hoping to become more masculine, “he would saunter manfully up to it and pretend it was his own” (Yates 37). Eventually, Frank takes life into his own hands and decides to ride the rails in high school. He thinks he is being bold by choosing an outfit consisting of entirely army clothes so he can play the role of a tough man. Frank’s self-esteem at this point in his life is so low he does not even think strangers on a train will think he is a man. As much as Frank wants people to think he has manly qualities, in reality Frank’s supposedly best friend calls him a jerk because he is trying so hard he just comes off as a poseur. After high school as a married man to April, Frank admits he “was a little wise guy with a big mouth. I was showing off a lot of erudition I didn’t have” (119). Frank continues to portray a lack of confidence when he is first granted a job at Knox Business Machines, the company his father worked at, and later into his career in Knox’s Home Office. The minute Frank is hired at Knox he is overly proud about being employed without mentioning his father’s name. Ironically, Frank does not actually care about the job itself but is only concerned with being able to prove to his father that he is a capable of being a mature man. In Frank’s mind he even refers to his job as reenacting a “joke” every day. He pretends to walk...

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