Term paper

Table of Contents

Lee Wing LamDr. Charlie NG Chak KwanENGL A102F Classic American Films30 November 2019The representation of women in The Godfather and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest The Godfather and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest both embrace the theme of gender: The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is a story demonstrating power and violence in Mafia’s world. (Phillps 88-90) But, analyzing the text from a different angle, women in The Godfather are under a patriarchal system and convey the conventional image of them.The conventional image of women is related to the female gender stereotype since gender roles of women are usually centered on the conception of femininity, which is a set of appearances, roles, and behaviors associated with women. Peculiarities of it traditionally cited as feminine include demureness, empathy, and humility. (Shehan 1-5) The feminine characters in The Godfather emphasize the strength of patriarchy in the Corleone family, men have authority and dominance over their wives and children (Suprusr) because the feminine factors such as weakness and consideration led women to obey to male. On the contrary, females in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest break the conventional image of women, intent to dominate men by intimidation, shaming and physical force which reflects the matriarchy, women hold the main power positions. (Scott)My thesis statement is “The Godfather’s representation of the conventional image of women reflects the masculine nature of the world of the Mafia, while One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s unconventional representation of women attempts to criticize institutional oppression.” Next, I would discuss the representation of women in The Godfather.Since 1880, many Sicilians emigrated to America and the Mafia established in New York and Chicago. The Mafia is active in the criminal organization such as prostitution, fraud, and kidnapping. (Anne and Wright) The world of Mafia in The Godfather is ruled by muscular men where men hold the scope of power. The role of women is mostly being caretakers of the family and have a lower status compared with men.In the scene of wedding ceremony at the beginning, women, all dress bonnily. The camera captures this scene from a distance so that no female guest gets any distinct concern which hints that women get no chances to speak anything worthwhile in this film. (Hafsa 148)Connie is one of the representations of conventional image of women that always complies with the order from men and as one of the members of caretaker of the family. For example, when Don backs home from the hospital, men gather together talking business while all women are busy preparing the meal. When the dinner is ready, Sonny still talking about trading so that Connie tells him that their father never talked dealing at the table. However, Carlo, Connie’s husband tells Connie “shut up”. Sonny cautions Carlo furiously be respectful towards his sister, but their mother tells Sonny “not to intervene” (The Godfather 1: 36: 32 – 1: 36: 45). Connie closes her mouth immediately when her husband asks her so. In this scene showing that none of the women can speak except Connie, and she is also told to “shut up”. (Hafsa 150) The women in The Godfather usually as taking care of a family. The world of Mafia is dominated by muscular men, where women barely get any voice. Furthermore, while Sonny finds that Connie has been beaten by her husband, because of fearing her brother might beat Carlo, Connie persuades Sonny it was her fault, and it was she who had started the fight (The Godfather 1: 47: 25 – 1: 47: 50). Connie does not mind being hurt by her husband and loves him with heart and soul although it could have taken the life of her unborn baby. (Hafsa 151) Connie accepts a subordinate status as wives, she looks after his husbands and gives birth to their children. Throughout the film, women are sostenuto told to look after the children whilst the men take care of business. Female characters also appear as objects, primarily for their sexual appeal to men. Sonny’s paramour is one of the examples. At the wedding proceeds, Sonny and her having sex from above Sonny’s shoulder, and the audience views her from the angle of Sonny where the paramour is regarded as an object compared with Sonny. (Hafsa 148) This is the first scene that the film contains a female character with no background music. The absence of music led people to focus on what is being said by the character. However, the only sound that the viewer can hear is the highly sensuous moaning of the paramour. Sonny’s paramour emerges in the whole movie only twice, and both times, she appears for the sexual satisfaction of Sonny. Besides, her name has never been mentioned in the movie. Not revealing this role’s name shows that she does not importance at all since the sole purpose of her existence in this world of gangsters is to please men’s demand for sex.Another example of women appears as the foil in the Mafia’s world and mainly for their sexual appearance to men in this film can be seen at Michael’s relationships between Kay and Apollonia. When Michael Corleone arrives in Sicily, he meets Apollonia. Michael is instantly attracted by her physical beauty. (The Godfather 1: 40: 23). One of Michael’s guards describes the woman that particularly attracted Michael’s attention: “Such hair…such mouth” (The Godfather 1: 41: 21). Infatuated by this Italian beauty, Michael marries her. (Hafsa 151) Apollonia is the representation of femininity; she is beautiful to Michael that he making inquiries to begin a traditional courtship of Apollonia without mutual understanding. Apollonia not only beautiful but also feminine and young. Apollonia often wears a dress in the film, the first time she met Michael was wearing a magenta dress and she was always appearing with long hair. Apollonia didn’t talk much in The Godfather, the first word came from her mouth is a lowish “Thanks” to Michael. (The Godfather Michael Corleone and Apollonia 03:22) Those factors reflect that She is demure and girlish. Apollonia was sixteen or seventeen at the time with an enchanting face and captivating body. She is also a virgin and at the wedding night, the scene shows her supple breasts and smooth skin. It seems that sexual attractiveness to be the only parameter to judge a woman. (Hafsa 152)One the other hand, Michael completely forgetting his love interest in America, Kay, whom he had left without a word. Michael marries Apollonia, never considering how Kay would have felt and heartbreaking if she knows about it. When Apolonia dies and Michael then returns to America, but he didn’t meet Kay as soon as he can, he finds Kay after he been back in America for more than a year (The Godfather 2:14:04). This reveals that both Kay and Apolonia have been entirely dispensable objects for Michael. The deadness of Apollonia is the reason Michael returns to Kay so that he could marry her, and have children by her. Thus, women, in this male-dominated world, are just numbers that are replaceable whenever needed. In the meantime, Kay as a white protestant is just a means for Michael to assimilate with the majority of American middle-class. Since Michael was a Marine during World War II, it is believed that The Godfather is set in the 40s-50s America which is a period that women are seen as a home wife and only a few women seek higher education. (Kristyn) However, Kay meets Michael at University; she is well educated and independent that reflects she has the identity of the American middle-class to pursue studying and Michael marries her just for gaining recognitional respectability to further legalize the business of Mafia. Kay is another tool for men to reinforce their power. Albeit The Godfather and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest both point out that authority is held by one gender, there is no oppression in The Godfather, in other words, there is no one resists the patriarchal system. As I mentioned, even though Connie was hurt by her husband, she still loves him. However, males in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, against the matriarchy, the representation of institutional oppression.Female roles shown in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, except the prostitutes, are very terrifying, have absolute control over men. From the conversation between him and Nurse Ratched, Billy’s mother has never shown a gentle image; she has been strictly manipulated Billy since his childhood. As a young man, it is reasonable to date with a girl. However, Billy’s mother prevents Billy from contacting the opposite sex. Billy implemented his first suicide because of the failure to propose a girl. When Ratched asks Billy does he ever told it to his mother, Billy is promptly feeling tense. The suicide can be seen as a resistance to the matriarchy, but eventually, Billy lives in a mental hospital voluntarily, fails to get rid of the oppression from his mother.Harding is a middle-aged man who should be active in society and the backbone of a family in such age. However, he chooses to live in the ward because of the domination of his wife. Harding’s wife does not appear in the movie, but the influence on Harding was everywhere. During the group meeting, Harding admitted he is suspecting his wife has extramarital affairs. But, he does not take any actions to stop his wife’s cheating. Harding’s arrival at the mental hospital is also voluntary which is a helpless move under a strong psychological pressure that precisely reflects his wife is the leader at home that Harding affair to rebel her.Billy and Harding escaping the oppression from family so that they live in the mental hospital. In fact, they just fall into another suffering from women.In the movie, patients and security guards are all males in the mental hospital. Some of these men are tall, burly and appear to be powerful symbols. However, except McMurphy is resisting, other men are in a state of oppression and control. When Nurse Ratched entered the gate of the hospital, security guards make way for her and patients to dodge aside. Nurse Ratched is a flat character, which means she encounters no changes whatsoever throughout the film. As Chief describes Ratched in the novel:tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine. The slightest thing messy or out of kilter or in the way ties her into a little white knot of tight-smiled fury.In the film, Ratched is always shown with the same appearance, she is always keeping a same hairstyle, same white nurse uniform, her expressions are always calculated and fixed. Her mechanical identity actually is the representation of institution. The hospital has a clear hierarchy and she holds the biggest that can decide what is right and wrong to consolidate her power. If anyone challenges or menaces her authority, who will be punished which conveys the idea of institutional oppression. In truth, observing the mise-en-scène, windows are all closes with barbed wire, wards are brushed on pale colors which seems inanimate. Every day, patients follow the schedule made by the hospital to live. They take unknown drugs, if refusing to take the medicine, cate workers compel them to take the medicine by force; they have the group meeting no matter they want or not. This behavior is controlling the patient’s body under the banner of treating. The hospital will also use electroshock therapy to punish those disobedient patients. The lives in such are no different to live in prison except that they are not sinners. McMurphy’s sanity, symbolized by his free laughter, open sexuality, strength and confidence, Randle Patrick McMurphy ‘s innate personality makes it impossible for him to adhere to the distraction. He has primitive inclinations such as gambling, drinking, and sex. The acronym ‘RPM’ of his name is also the acronym for ‘Revolution Per minute’. He stands in contrast to the institution. He tries to liberate the inmates, he steals a hospital bus, escaping with several patients to go on a fishing trip, encouraging his friends to discover their personality and find self-confidence. However, at last, he loses in the struggle and has to undergo lobotomy ordered by Ratched. Billy also kills himself after losing his virginity to Candy because of the threatening from Ratched. Although Ratched knows Billy’s stammer disappears since he has sex with Candy, she coerces Billy that she would tell it to his mum since it challenges her doctrines of psychiatry.The name Ratched is also a pun of “ratchet,” which is a gadget for twisting motion to tighten bolts into place. This pun serves a greater metaphorical objective, as Ratched manipulates the patients and twists them to spy on one another or expose each other’s’ weaknesses in group sessions that keep her patients ‘adjusted’. As a part of institution, Nurse Ratched controls the inmates through both coercion and consent. Most inmates accept her claim to psychiatric knowledge so they accept her rules, and willingly give her power and even do than it, they become agents of self-agents of self-surveillance which is two-fold. Outside: The social gaze of psychiatry, defining people “sane” or “insane” means one, the inmates have to behave to conform to the rules which the hospital is accepted. Inside: Constantly watched by the guards in the glass station, just the same with the guards in the hospital by the nurse. As I mentioned, Nurse Ratched encourages inmates to “spy on each other”. She symbolizes both the repressive state apparatus and ideological state apparatus. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest criticizes such institutional oppression, it is a symbolic tale of all struggles against oppression. Although McMurphy, the one fighting the system, loses the ability to resist. But, the death of McMurphy isn’t meaningless. Bromden, as the son of an Indian chief, is a combination of natural individuality and a spirit almost completely subverted by mechanized society. Chief clearly forgetting that his physical strength because he has been “belittled” for so long. But, lastly, when he realizes that McMurphy has been sacrificed himself by being rebellious to the institution in order to enlighten the inmates. Chief lifting the fountain to break the window is a symbolic act of inheriting McMurphy’s legacy and empowerment. The music becomes enlivening and liberating.Chief gains the strength he needs to assert his independence and to remind all of us that freedom is still possible even in a world of total confinement and discipline.In conclusion, Ken Kesey who writes One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and bridged the Beat Movement and 1960s counterculture, led One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest displays the conflict between personal freedom and forces of institution which is one of the ideas in 1960s counterculture, rebellion. It is a paean of liberty and sternly opposes the persecution.The released time of The Godfather also under the period of 1960s counterculture which demonstrates the spirit of conspiracy against mainstream values. Mafia, villains are the main characters and glamorized. The female characters in the film that are not the members of the Corleone family appear mainly as prostitutes, providing sexual pleasures to the gangsters. The identity given to the women reveals the male dominance in the world of Mafia, women are loyal to men, men’s foils to strengthen the power of men and rebellion.Works CitedPhillips, Gene D. Godfather: the Intimate Francis Ford Coppola. University Press of Kentucky, 2005.Kerr, Anne., and Edmund Wright. “Dictionary of World History – Oxford Reference.” Dictionary of World History – Oxford Reference, Oxford University Press, 6 Nov. 2019, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199685691.001.0001/acref-9780199685691.Suprusr. “Role of Women in the Godfather Essay Example.” Graduateway, Graduateway, 10 Aug. 2017, https://graduateway.com/role-of-women-in-the-godfather/.Rehman, Hafsa. “FEMALE IDENTITY IN GANGSTER MOVIES: A STUDY OF THE GODFATHER MOVIE.” Journal of Media Critiques [JMC], 13 Apr. 2018, pp. 148-152, http://www.mediacritiques.net/index.php/jmc/article/view/223.Shehan, Constance L. “Gale Researcher Guide for: The Continuing Significance of Gender.” Google Books, Gale, Cengage Learning, 30 Aug. 2018, pp.1-5, https://books.google.com/books?id=F_F1DwAAQBAJ.Godfather, The. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Paramount,2001. “The Godfather Michael Corleone and Apollonia.” YouTube, uploaded by Film Box, 11 Sept. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV4-qKUAgtY.John, Scott. “A Dictionary of Sociology (4th Ed.).”, EBooks.com, OUP Oxford; September 2014, 11 Sept. 2014, https://www.ebooks.com/en-us/1791127/a-dictionary-of-sociology/john-scott/.Hammond, Kristyn. “American Women in the 50s.” The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey, 9 Apr. 2019, https://www.theclassroom.com/american-women-50s-9170.html.