The Pursuit of Happiness: Breaking Down Walls in American Beauty and Chrysanthemums

Introduction: Life presents us with social barriers that shape our journey, either uplifting or hindering, based on our interactions. American Beauty and Chrysanthemums share parallels, portraying characters who ardently follow societal norms, only to confront unexpected roadblocks.

Breaking Down Walls: Both Lester and Elisa embark on quests for fulfillment, yet some focus excessively on breaking one wall – the success barrier. This myopic pursuit blinds them to the walls closing in behind. Hard work and patience may not guarantee desires, leading to psychological tolls.

American Beauty: Lester, after 14 years in a dead-end job and a strained family life, reaches a breaking point. His pursuit of success turns into frustration until he embraces life on his terms, teaching us to value happiness over societal expectations.

Superego and Ego: The superego, crucial for societal stability, remains intact in Lester. Even in his rebellion, he retains kindness. Elisa, in Chrysanthemums, grapples with moral ideals dictated by society. Her ego, more than Lester’s, hinders personal growth.

Chrysanthemums: Elisa’s ego persists as she tends to her chrysanthemums, her pride and a socially acceptable pursuit. Unlike Lester, she is confined by societal statutes, unable to break free.

Comparison: Both characters spend excessive time navigating societal norms, yet Lester, unappreciated and unhappy, breaks free. Elisa, though skilled, remains bound by societal constraints.

Everyday Struggle: Lester’s relatable struggle in a world full of opportunities but lacking luck evokes empathy. Elisa, constrained by societal limitations, works tirelessly, yet her efforts yield insignificant results.

Conclusion: American Beauty and Chrysanthemums narrate the common struggle of individuals seeking recognition in a vast world. Their stories remind us of the universal quest for significance, akin to a fish seeking acknowledgment in an ocean.

These tales illuminate the intricate dance between societal expectations and personal fulfillment, urging us to question the walls we build and the paths we choose in our pursuit of happiness.

  • This has been a republishing of an English essay from my Sophomore year at Butte College.

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