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A Sociological View on the Movie Mona Lisa's Smile

Essay by   •  July 13, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  607 Words (3 Pages)  •  4,908 Views

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In the movie Mona Lisa's Smile, Katherine Watson, a new teacher at Wellesley College, determined to become inspiration for her students, was forced to face many hardships for her unwavering feminist beliefs against the traditions of society.

Katherine's strong opinion in regards to the traditions and values of Wellesley College, is strongly influenced by the primary agents of socialization in her life. In Mona Lisa's Smile, Katherine's roommates, Nancy Abbey and Amanda Armstrong, are her primary agents of socilization. Amanda Armstrong was fired from Wellesley Academy for handing out contraceptions on campus to protect girls. Amanda's strong rebellion against the conservative ways of Wellesley is a strong inspiration to Katherine Watson, as she trys to bring in a new set of values to the students. Nancy Abbey, on the other hand, provided a sense of belonging to Katherine in some degree as they live together. Thus, the two roommates are clearly the primary agents of socialization to Katherine Watson because of the emotional attachment and influence on the protagonist.

The strong American Culture of the 1950s is clearly depicted in this film. The 1950s was a time when the standard of norm was for women to stay at home as housewives and raise children. At one point of the film, one of the students told Katherine Watson not to "disregard our traditions just because you're subversive ", showing rejection towards Katherine's attempt to make a change. The Wellesley students considered Katherines actions to be a declaration of war on " the holy sacrament of marriage." In addition, the influence between peers is also shown through this movie. During Katherine's first day at work, she learns that all the students have the syllabus memorized, depicting very similar attitudes and behaviour that must have been the result of influences by each other. The influence of media on the traditions of America in the 1950s was shown when Katherine shows her students some advertisement during a class lesson: "what will future scholars see when they study us, a portrait of women today? There you are ladies: the perfect likeness of a Wellesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude, doing exactly what she was trained to do ". The advertisement depictes women to be housewives, expected to cook and iron clothes. This was as considered to be the social norm, much to Katherine's dislike.

Katherine's resistant attitude towards the conservative values of the 1950s has created quite a riot and eventually forced her to face the sanction of her actions; the Persident of Wellesley College restricted her to either teach from the Syllabus or to loose her job as a consequence. Nevertheless, her behaviours has allowed her to grow stronger with her primary group, as Katherine and Nancy bonds after a bad



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