Love is one of the most liberating connections two people can hold between each other when it is authentic and sincere. Many find completion and satisfaction when they find this ideal, true love in another. However, when love is turned into a façade in order to create the image of an perfect, fulfilling relationship, it can be alienating and destructive. In Walker Percey’s essay, The Man on the Train, he claims that love is ultimately a source of alienation instead of an escape into wonderful satisfaction. This theory is exemplified in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, a story of a woman, Ellie, on a journey to fill her void of true love and escape her feelings of alienation. only exacerbates her sense of alienation instead of functioning as a cure. Until Ellie can find real love within herself she will never be fully satisfied with her life. In the mean time she involves herself in many different scenarios with various men seeking some form of love, her distraction from alienation.
The opening scene of “It Happened One Night” illustrates that Ellie has all the luxuries one can wish for, yet she is still dissatisfied with her life. She argues that although she is given everything she is still not happy. During an argument with Peter Ellie explains the reason for her alienation, “People who are spoiled are accustomed to having their own way. I never have. On the contrary. I've always been told what to do, and how to do it, and when, and with whom.” As a result she finds herself on a quest for her husband to be, King Westley, whom her father strongly disapproves of. In the course of her search she falls in love, yet again with Peter Warne. By the end of the movie Ellie and Peter seemingly live happily ever after.
The love that Elle pursues is a forged feeling. She shifts so easily from her adoration for King Westley to her love for Peter Warne that it leads one to believe that it is disingenuous. Throughout “It Happened One Night” Ellie is being taken care of by someone else other than herself. In the beginning her father looks after her. Then on her search for her husband, Peter takes Ellie under her wing. The men in her life all play a role of a nurturer or a protector, in a sense replacing the role of her father. Ellie is essentially in search of a man that can support and nurture her. The men that fulfill Ellie’s needs in the movie are there only temporarily until she can find another man to serve her desires. .
One would assume that because Ellie has everything one can ask for, such as money and love, that she is cured from alienation. However, as Percy explains in his essay, “… though [she] will have met every “need” which can be abstracted by the objective-empirical method, sexual needs, nutritional, emotional… this [woman] may nevertheless be alienated” (Percy 84). Percy has described exactly the predicament that Ellie finds herself in. Although Ellie has found love and may now feel that her life is...