Mildred Pierce Contradictions

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In her discussion of Mildred Pierce (1945), Linda Williams argues in her essay, “Mildred Pierce and the Second World War”, that, melodrama is able to foreground problems (gender conflicts), encountered by women under patriarchal rule, precisely because it rarely references its historical context. Mildred Pierce is a wartime film that doesn't mention war: WWII. Released the day the troops returned from World War II, Mildred Pierce presents a profound ambivalence towards the career woman. The film generates a substantial amount of cultural anxiety about women who foray into hitherto male realms. Utilising Frederic Jameson’s ideas of a ‘political unconsciousness’, Williams suggest that there are contradictions in the historical moments of Mildred Pierce that are both reflected and repressed by the film.…show more content…
The text is both the site where the strains of repression emerge and also a utopian compensation for the repression of the real. Williams uses these to discuss the absent referent of the war in Mildred Pierce. For Williams the absence direct referral to the war or the real in this film, foregrounds the historical contradictions of women’s wartime experiences, such as conflicts between motherhood and newly found work, in relation to the absence of men and patriarchal rule. So, films such as Mildred Pierce repress (manage) and reflect women’s issues about the war that other films focus more directly on wartime experience fail to capture. In Mildred Pierce some of the most significant issues raised by the war are not reflected in the films about the war. It is as if only those films that could both reflect and repress could also manage these issues, so important to women’s new wartime

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