The Piano By Jane Campion Essay

1198 words - 5 pages

Activity One: A, Social Context The Victorian and values of the 1900's had a large impact on the film "The Piano" written and directed by Jane Campion.Gender roles were made plainly clear in the opening scenes of the film. Males had the power of decision making in society. Ada's voice in the first scene told us "my father has married me to a man today that I have not even met yet…" Ada was not asked for either her consent or disapproval to this arrangement, nevertheless Ada and her daughter, Flora, are sent to New Zealand. Flora resents this new man she says to her mother, "I am not going to call him Papa, I am not going to call him anything." Women were expected to care for the house, cook and clean for the men. The first comment Alister Stewart made when asked what he thought of her is, "She is small, I never thought she would be small, stunted even." This tells audience that he had little concern for the woman, as she had been sleeping on the beach all night and he had not picked up on the fact that she looked "tired", and that he was concerned that his new wife would not be able to carry out daily chores, instead of her well being.The dresses Ada wore were very restrictive and heavy, it reminds us of the oppression of women in that era. In the final scene Ada is seen to be wearing a dress, which would have been comparatively more comfortable and less restrictive, this use of costume shows us the harmony and peace she has finally found after the repressed nature of her past.Men were left physical labor, hunting and trading. It was men that came to transport Ada's possessions to the house. Stewart is seen on several occasions making attempts to trade land with the Maori people and then with Baines for the piano.Marriages were organized and impersonal in many cases. Ada, a mail order bride, arrives with expectations on her to fill the role of a 'good wife', which is to do her chores with out complaint. Victorian attitudes towards sexual relations were that sex is a dirty act, which must be tolerated to produce children. Ada entering a marriage with a child would have been unusual and of course Ada later having an affair with Baines would not have been tolerated.The class distinction between the Maori and the British was fairly ironic. The British believing themselves superior and that they must better the natives to be like them while the Maori people are laughing at the British. Clothing and land were two main aspects of high rank in the 1900's. Stewart wished to make a good impression to Ada so despite the impracticalities he wore a full suit and a top hat through the swampy forest to meet Ada on her arrival. The Maoris did not care for, or understand Stewart and made fun at how out of place and stupid he was.B, Cultural Context When the British arrived in New Zealand they were self-righteous and were bigotry towards the natives. A large problem in the relationship between the two groups was the language barrier. When the Maori were...

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