An Education Film Essay Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 8 March 2016

An Education Film Essay

Analyse how conflict (either internal or external) was used in a film you have studied to help us better understand a main character.

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” An Education directed by Lone Scherfig is a film about coming of age and discovering whom we are. The film is set in the early 1960’s a time ruled by moral code and strong feminist rules. Jenny is the main character who is 16 and aspiring to read English at Oxford. She soon meets playboy David, who seduces her and they fall in love. This relationship lets Jenny see into a whole new world of thrilling and current things. This creates a big internal conflict for Jenny who now must decide what she wants to do with her life. She has three pathways she can choose from, and the characters of Helen, Mrs. Stubbs and Jenny’s mother Marjorie model all of these paths. She must decide if she wants to live an exciting life but is filled with fraud and larceny. She can also living a boring life of teacher marking ‘pony essays’ but also one that has had the purpose of an education and is fulfilling in numerous ways. Jenny can also become a housewife though like her mother Marjorie, this is the most common paths for women in the 1960’s and is a tedious and unfulfilling lifestyle. Jenny is internally conflicted between all three of these paths, because whichever one she picks will determine the rest of her life.

Very early on in the film we are introduced to the character of Helen, she is an affluent person and lives an abundant life style of which many people in the 1960’s would be jealous. She has the privilege of lavish clothes, attending fabulous concerts, going to art auctions, eating in Michelin star restaurants and traveling the world. This is the life Jenny wants to live. Jenny is able to access this life style through David; he opens her up to all sorts of new possibilities. When we first meet Helen at the concert in Saint James Square we can tell the Jenny is in awe of Helen. Jenny strokes Helens velvety fur cape, admiring the fine piece of clothing. Jenny asks Helen “it is beautiful, where did it come from?” Helen being very wealthy probably has many coats and beautiful clothes like this and so simply replies “oh South Ken somewhere.” The area Helen is talking about is South Kensington and is one of the wealthiest areas of London.

This is the kind of area that Jenny wouldn’t have been able to afford anything from so when Helen suggests to her that they should go shopping together there and that David can pay, Jenny is a little taken back because something so luxurious and exorbitant shouldn’t come so easily. Jenny realises that this life can become possible if she sticks with David. There is no need for her to attend Oxford to have a fun and fulfilling life. With David she can live Helen’s life, where she can go to France; her escape in life “ I want to be French. She wouldn’t have to deal with her parents, school and Oxford. With David she is not confined in her life, she can do whatever she wants. Jenny must make a decision as to whether she wants to stay with David and to continue living this exciting lifestyle or to continue on the path of life she had originally planned out for her life in Oxford and one of an Education. Jenny must remember that “when life’s path is steep to keep your mind open” Jenny is focused on David in the movie because she thinks it is what she wants. We must all keep be level minded when we are making decisions, Lone Scherfig has alerted this too the audience that these choices we make are important and they will leave a mark on us forever.

Mrs. Stubbs is a very influential person in Jenny’s life. Mrs. Stubbs life could foreshadow one that Jenny might live if she gets an education at Oxford. Mrs. Stubbs is Jenny’s English teacher, and she studied at Cambridge. Cambridge is a very prestigious school, which is very similar to Oxford. Both schools hold high reputation and only the elite and highly respected can attend these two schools. Judging from the lifestyles of the female role models around her, Jenny’s future can be narrowed down to two options; housewife or a secretary if she doesn’t get an education. In order to avoid those to paths in life, Jenny’s caring but overly concerned parents Jack and Marjorie and Mrs. Stubbs forcefully suggest an education at Oxford.

In order to market herself as a valuable candidate, Jenny must ace English, Latin, French (hence the title), and show cultural breadth (her “hobby” is the cello). Yet, if all goes according to plan, Jenny will meet a similarly cultured wealthy man and will no longer need to do any of those things. The irony, of course, is that an Oxford education is simply a means of making the bait more alluring. Jenny comes to this realisation early into Scherfig’s film and asks the question “Why must I attend Oxford when I could easily take a shortcut and reach the same inevitable conclusion by attending the school of life? I’d have a lot more fun.” David is a shortcut past Oxford and is also a lot more entertaining and fun. Jenny must open her mind up to the possibilities that Oxford and an education can grant her. She must again keep her mind open; sometimes the path that is not as clear is often the better choice. As the viewer we want Jenny to go to Oxford and we can see how her decision will make a last imprint on her. We want her to attend and it makes us reflect on all those important decisions we have all had to make in our lives.

In order to market herself as a valuable candidate, Jenny must ace English, Latin, French (hence the title), and show cultural breadth (her “hobby” is the cello). Yet, if all goes according to plan, Jenny will meet a similarly cultured wealthy man and will no longer need to do any of those things. The irony, of course, is that an Oxford education is simply a means of making the bait more alluring. Jenny comes to this realisation early into Scherfig’s film and asks the question “Why must I attend Oxford when I could easily take a shortcut and reach the same inevitable conclusion by attending the school of life? I’d have a lot more fun.” David is a shortcut past Oxford and is also a lot more entertaining and fun. Jenny must open her mind up to the possibilities that Oxford and an education can grant her. She must again keep her mind open; sometimes the path that is not as clear is often the better choice. As the viewer we want Jenny to go to Oxford and we can see how her decision will make a last imprint on her. We want her to attend and it makes us reflect on all those important decisions we have all had to make in our lives.

In order to market herself as a valuable candidate, Jenny must ace English, Latin, French (hence the title), and show cultural breadth (her “hobby” is the cello). Yet, if all goes according to plan, Jenny will meet a similarly cultured wealthy man and will no longer need to do any of those things. The irony, of course, is that an Oxford education is simply a means of making the bait more alluring. Jenny comes to this realisation early into Scherfig’s film and asks the question “Why must I attend Oxford when I could easily take a shortcut and reach the same inevitable conclusion by attending the school of life? I’d have a lot more fun.” David is a shortcut past Oxford and is also a lot more entertaining and fun. Jenny must open her mind up to the possibilities that Oxford and an education can grant her. She must again keep her mind open; sometimes the path that is not as clear is often the better choice. As the viewer we want Jenny to go to Oxford and we can see how her decision will make a last imprint on her. We want her to attend and it makes us reflect on all those important decisions we have all had to make in our lives.

The final route Jenny can take is one of the most common paths young women in the 1960’s take and that is to become a housewife and mother. This path requires no education apart from how to cook, clean and sew. These three things are all taught at school along with dancing and posture. These are all qualities a good housewife needs to make their husband look first class and not themselves. In the very opening scenes of the movie we see a montage of shots that exhibit the young girls in the 1960’s learning these qualities. This opening scene illustrates to the audience the traditional expectations of young women. This kind of education the women are getting is to set them up to be wives, to be like Marjorie. Jenny however is different to the other girls. Her education will not stop her hopefully but instead it will continue on at Oxford. One of the most important scenes shown in the movie is when Jenny comes home after being out for the night with David for the first time.

When we see Marjorie in this shot we can see her through the kitchen door trying to clean a casserole dish. Marjorie is completely framed inside her world. By marrying Jack it has trapped inside this world, there is no fun parties or lavish concerts, instead she is a housewife, “and I can’t get this casserole dish clean. We had hot-pot tonight, and it’s all burnt round…” Jenny is confused though as “its twenty-five to twelve. We finish tea at seven.” Jenny soon realises that this is a life you get trapped in, and once you enter into it there isn’t any escape. Jenny is different from the other girls at school she is smart. She will not become a housewife and we can see how fantastic it is to stand out and be different. With this comes choice though resulting in hard decisions. Jenny is forced to make one and as the viewer Lone Scherfig has positioned us to see how all the choices we make in our lives will and can affect us.

Jenny is forced to make a difficult decision, and she is conflicted between what she wants to do in life. At this stage in her life she can has to choose between becoming her mother, Helen or Mrs. Stubbs. With decisions comes conflict and Jenny is internally conflicted with all of these options. Lone Scherfig has effectively made the audience look back on all of the decisions we have had to make in our lives and how they have shaped us into who we are today. Our paths should lead us all to a goal and desire. We can only know this when “if you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 8 March 2016

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