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Myths and Heroes : Is the suburban dream a utopia or a dystopia ? A dream or a nightmare?

Synthèse : Myths and Heroes : Is the suburban dream a utopia or a dystopia ? A dream or a nightmare?. Recherche parmi 298 000+ dissertations

Par   •  10 Novembre 2019  •  Synthèse  •  1 257 Mots (6 Pages)  •  623 Vues

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Introduction : The notion I'm going to deal with is Myths and Heroes. First, let me define those terms : myth refers to a popular belief or tradition embodying the ideals and institutions of a society (here the American dream and so the suburban dream) and the term hero refers to the main character in a literary or dramatic work.

Is the suburban dream a utopia or a dystopia ? A dream or a nightmare? To try answering to this question, I will present 3 documents. The first one is an advertisement concerning the suburbs, the second one is a scene from the movie Edward Scissorhands, and the last one, my personal document is a scene from the movie The Truman show.

The first document is a poster of an advertisement created in the 50s which promote the suburban developments of Levittown (by the way the name Levitt is the creator of those suburbs). It advertizes new and modern housing in a perfect surrounding. In this poster, we can notice a wife watering her lawn while her children are playing around, those suburbs are surrounded with greenery. This picture conveys an impression of quietness, safety, harmony, and it's seems well-organised to make middle-class families feel like buying a house in this community. Levittown, as it is presented in this ad, is the symbol of the suburban dream. But at the same time, this picture seems too perfect to be true, it is a bit creepy and makes us feel uneasy.

Here, suburbia is idealised to attract people as it seems to be a real utopia for them. But we will now see that suburbia is not as perfect as it is shown, there are different aspects of the suburban dream, and we will see it with my second document.

It is an extract which comes from the American movie Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton and released in 1990. Edward Scissorhands is the story of a young man who is half-robot, half-human as he has scissors for hands. He lives alone in a castle but is found by Peg, a cosmetics saleswoman who brings him to her home situated in the suburbs. He is then not really accepted by the neighbours but tries to fit in even if he is different. As I want to illustrate the theme of suburbia, I have chosen an extract which represents it well according to me. In this extract, the scene takes place during the day with a very bright blue sky. It begins with a long shot of identifical houses with different pastel colours, we can see a man mowing his lawn and also a woman dressed in pastel colours watering her lawn. All seems to be normal and peaceful. Then, there are cuts from one shot to the next which only shows the houses so that gives us the impression that there are no feelings and the houses are seen as identical objects. The main character appears finally, she is dressed in purple, wears glasses, carries a suitcase and goes door-to-door to sell Avon beauty products. She rings the bell at a first house : a woman named Helen in her bathrobe opens the door and Peg begins to talk. Her speech seems to be fake and rehearsed : we guess she learnt it by heart. But Helen refuses to buy anything and Peg sounds used to being refused. She next rings the bell at the second house in which a women also dressed in pastel colours with long nails is smoking and flirting with a plumber repairing her dishwasher, she seems very superficial. Although she tells him a very interesting thing “housewives get lonely too. Although you may not realize it since they haven't made a commercial on the subject”. We can suppose she critics consumer society and shows the power of advertising. She sounds annoyed someone's ringing at the door and when she sees Peg, she slams the door. In the last house, we see a teenager trying all the Avon products but doesn't buy them. When Peg comes back to her car, she seems very tired and annoyed as she didn't sell anything. To finish, the suburbs in this extract are shown as artificial with uninviting people as they reject Peg. Women are matron or cheating housewives which makes us disappointed concerning the suburban dream. Here, Burton criticizes the superficiality of suburban inhabitants, suburbia seems to be more a distopia than an utopia : appearances (mowed lawns) don't show the reality (people).


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