Mona Lisa Smile

478 Words2 Pages
In the feature film Mona Lisa Smile directed by Mike Newell, various film conventions have been used to convey the role of women in the 1960s. This film depicts Wellesley College, a women-only Massachusetts school, in the 1950s. It is centred in the classroom of Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a socially progressive art history instructor. In this film, the traditional ideologies of a woman’s role in society as a domestic homemaker are constantly presented. These ideas are conveyed to the target audience through the use of lighting, a technical code which assists in uncovering the oppression surrounding women in the 1960s, and the symbolic presence of costumes. Among countless others, these two techniques in particular, illustrate to the audience the role of a woman in the 1960s. In a particular scene of the movie, viewers see the girls being taught how to prepare dinner for their husband’s boss. Through clear and concise lighting, the audience is able to see that women were expected to show an interest to cook for their husbands and his boss. Etiquette lessons were essential to the curriculum of the college, as it was to prepare the girls to become the perfect housewife when they get married. Betty Warren, one of the main characters, firmly believes a woman's only role is to be a wife and mother. She strongly opposes Katherine’s way of teaching and writes a newspaper article that tries to make everyone in the college go against Katherine. Out of anger, Katherine Watson shows her students four advertisements in her upcoming lesson, which showed contented housewives with their modern appliances, she then asks them to question what the future will think of the idea that women are born into the roles of wives and mothers. The surrounding darkness of this scene with light focusing on the screen emphasises the main idea: women in the 1960s were expected to solely
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