Analysis Of The Inspirational Film, Mona Lisa Smile

2246 words - 9 pages

The movie, “Mona Lisa Smile” is an inspirational film that explores life through feminism, marriage, and education lead by a modernist teacher at the end of a traditional era. It begins by introducing the lead character, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), a liberal-minded novice professor from California, who lands a job in the art history department at a snobbish, all-girl college, called Wellesley, in the fall of 1953. Despite warnings from her boyfriend Paul that a Boston Brahmin environment was out of her element, Katherine was thrilled at the prospect of educating some of the brightest young women in the country however, her image of Wellesley quickly fizzles after her first day of class, in which, was more like a baptism by fire. Her smug students flaunted their exhaustive knowledge of the text and humiliated her in front of a supervisor. However, Katherine, determined not to buckle under pressure, departs from the syllabus in order to regain the upper hand. She quickly challenged the girls’ idea of what constituted art and exposed them to modern artist not endorsed by the school board. She dared them to think for themselves, and explore outside of their traditional views. This form of art was unacceptable by the students at first however, overtime Katherine penetrated her student’s distain and earned their esteem.
The notable exception was the moralistic upper-crust brat Betty, who sarcastically challenged Katherine from day one, and who caused Katherine’s colleague and friend Amanda to be fired by revealing in a school newspaper editorial that the free-thinking faculty member was supplying contraceptives to the students. This was unacceptable according to the staff of Wellesley because they felt that supplying women with contraceptives, was like condoning sexual activity before marriage, in which, sexual activity was not deemed as appropriate behavior for a woman who sought to be married by a man from upscale Harvard. They felt that a woman who had engaged in premarital sex, would not be sought as pure, or worthy of a strong intelligent man.
Betty’s editorial caused Amanda, a former graduate of Wellesley, and senior staff member, to be fired from the only life that she had left after the death of her lesbian lover, whom also was a former staff member. However, Betty was strong in her beliefs that the college, society, and her mother had instilled in her. Like them, she believed that a woman’s role in life was to be a good wife, mother, and homemaker. She never, for one second, gave Katherine a chance, though despite her efforts to discredit her as well, the student’s clique of friends - among them Giselle, Joan, and Connie grew increasingly to admire her and look to her as a mentor. Katherine prompted them to explore their potential for change, rather than dutifully accept the traditional views of an institution where education was viewed merely as a stopgap before marrying a man, for whom they would...

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