Discovery In Pleasantville

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Within the Shakespearian pastoral romance The Tempest and the film Pleasantville, directed by Gary Ross, discovery is portrayed as a thought-provoking, transformative and serendipitous process. Both texts explore discovery through the lens of colonialism and exploration, providing a detailed insight into the ramifications of individual’s attempts to instill power and control over other human beings. In addition, both texts explore the notion of challenging authority through an exploration of the enforcement of rigid limitations to individual freedom. Lastly, within both texts there is an ongoing dialogue regarding love, passion and romance, as respective characters are engaged by their unexpected discovery of their capacity for affection and…show more content…
However, as the film progresses audiences are challenged to see beyond the projected perfection of Pleasantville, as subtle undertones of a dystopian society emerge, where individuals are denied creativity and independence. Pleasantville pretends to be a light-hearted parody of the sanitized world of 1950’s sitcoms, but it grows darker even as it grows more colorful. Initially it is the actions of the mayor, Big Bob that engages audiences, as it becomes evident that Pleasantville isn’t the perceived utopian society that it was initially portrayed as. This is reinforced by the rigid limitations enforced upon citizens as all activities that promote creativity are blacklisted, ‘the only permissible paint colors shall be black, white or gray, despite the recent availability of certain alternatives. Through the use of alliteration, in addition to black and white imagery, Ross effectively conveys a sense of restriction and a denial of civil liberties. This notion of a strictly regimented and monotonous lifestyle is highlighted through the clockwork regularity with which tasks are conducted, and is akin to the lives of Caliban and Ariel, who are both subjugated and dehumanized by Prospero. Caliban’s experience of subjugation and marginalization in a society with an abnormal power hierarchy is akin to the experience of Pleasantville citizens, whose…show more content…
Betty’s interactions with Bill Johnson force her to confront her lack of independence, civil liberties and autonomy, as she realizes that she is reliant upon male figures for security and a sense of affection. From the onset Betty is portrayed as a conservative, obedient, sycophantic housewife. However, after being confronted with the shift in societal values and the youth’s adoption of liberal ideals, Betty’s sense of curiosity emerges. Akin to Miranda, Betty is naïve and ignorant, and innocently seeks clarification from Mary Sue, ‘What goes on up at Lover’s Lane? You hear these things lately… kids spending so much time up there… is it holding hands? That kind of thing?’ Mary Sue innocuously replies, ‘Well sex…’ This provokes further curiosity on Betty’s behalf as she continues her questioning, ‘Oh. What’s sex?’ Through the use of dramatic irony Betty’s primarily gullible, naïve and ignorant disposition is highlighted. However, after being exposed to the thought-provoking topic of sexual promiscuity and confronting the inevitability of change within her society, Betty discovers the freedom of self-expression and the liberating role of love and romance. Thus both texts explore the notion of female inferiority and male supremacy, as the dominant female

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