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Marilyn Monroe: American Sex Symbol Essay

5074 words - 20 pages

Marilyn Monroe was a woman who lived and thrived under the spotlight. Monroe has been immortalized in her words; she is quoted at one time saying, “I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I'm out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best”. An American Icon is someone whose works, life, and message withstand the test of time. In order to understand Marilyn Monroe’s impact as America’s sex symbol one must have an explanation of her background, an overview of her career as an actress, and an analysis of her critic’s reviews.
Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortensen on june 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California (“Marilyn Monroe Biography” 1). Norma Jeane was born into unfortunate circumstances, because her mother struggled with mental illness and she never knew her father (Haas 2). Monroe's early childhood was full of "traumatic" experiences which could justify her dependence on psychoanalysis as an adult. It is rumored that Monroe's earliest memory was of her mother attempting to smother her with a pillow. Growing up, Monroe spent much of her time in foster care and in an orphanage (“Marilyn Monroe Biography” 2). Monroe was deeply affected by the lack of stability in her childhood. Monroe never felt she belonged anywhere and she was sexually assaulted as a young girl (“Biography” 1). It can be inferred that Monroe’s feelings of abandonment and her negative encounters with men during her youth led to her desperate thirst for the spotlight and her modern sense of sexuality. Although she attended Van Nuys High School, sixteen year old Monroe dropped out to marry James Edward Daughtery, an aircraft production worker (Haas 1). Daugherty was often gone due to his job and Monroe was extremely lonely during his absences. In order to support herself while he was gone Marilyn resorted to modeling, thus beginning her obsession with the spotlight. In 1942 Monroe divorced Daughter, cut her hair, bleached it blonde, and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe (Haas 1). Like a butterfly from its cocoon Marilyn Monroe first appeared as she would be immortalized - a bold, blonde bombshell had emerged from a broken child. She signed her first movie contract with Twentieth Century Fox and after appearing in several forgettable pictures she starred in Asphalt Jungle in 1950 (Haas 1). After her role in Asphalt Jungle Monroe’s life would never be the same. In 1953 Monroe’s role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes launched her as a sex symbol superstar. However after her roles in How to Marry a Millionaire and The Seven-Year Itch Marilyn grew tired of her “dumb blonde” image. She studied with Lee and Paula Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York City in 1956 prior to delivering her most impressive performances in Bus Stop and Some Like it Hot (Knight 1). Monroe’s professional changes were soon followed by personal ones. Monroe married her second husband Joe...

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