Feminism in ‘Mona Lisa Smile” Assignment

Feminism in ‘Mona Lisa Smile” Assignment Words: 902

Mona Lisa Smile takes place in 1953 and tells the story of a feminist teacher who studied at UCLA graduate school and left as a first-year teacher from Oakland State University. She also leaves her boyfriend behind in Los Angeles, California, to teach at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, United States. Katherine Ann Watson tries to open her students’ minds to their freedom to do whatever they want with their lives. She encourages her students to believe in themselves, to study to become career professionals, and to improve their economic futures.

She uses her art teachings as a vehicle to put across her opinion to the young women; that her students needn’t conform to stereotypes of women made by society, or the roles made for them by society, as women born to become housewives and mothers. She felt that women could do more things in life than solely adopt the roles of wives and mothers. In one scene of the movie, she shows her students four newspaper ads, and asks them to question what the future will think of the idea that women are born into the roles of wives and mothers.

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Watson’s ideas and ways of teaching are contrary to methods deemed acceptable by the school’s directors; conservative women who believe firmly that Watson should not use her class to express her points of views or befriend students, and should stick only to teaching art. Watson is warned that she could be fired if she continues to interact with students as she has been doing. Fearless of her boss, Watson becomes stronger in her speeches about feminism and the future of women.

She is a firm believer that the outlook of women in society needed to be changed if women were to achieve better futures, and that she needed to instill a spirit of change among her students. Watson chooses to leave after the one year but, as she is leaving the campus for the last time, her students run after her car, to show their affection and to thank her for her lessons. The political ideology of Mona Lisa Smile is that the world told the girls how to think, but Ms. Watson showed them how to live. The ideas about chooling of girls in that time were persistently influenced by the dominant ideologies regarding the role of women in wider society. The dominant ideal upheld by the middle classes for women was that of the good wife and mother, so the girls were offered a curriculum that would make them attractive in the marriage market. In Mona Lisa Smile Katherine Watson challenges the college’s existing practices for the girls. She presents more liberal feminist ideas that are taken especially by three of her students, Betty Warren, Joan Brandwyn and Giselle Levy.

These three girls thought they had everything figured out for their future. Throughout the movie they constantly challenged Ms. Waston’s ideas about the future of women and in the end they realized there was so much more to life then what they were previously taught by their mothers and teachers. Joan was my favorite character. She was very bright and was more open about Ms. Watson’s teaching. She constantly questioned her and wanted to know more, instead of not listening at all like a lot of the other girls. Joan has the love of a Harvard boy and plans on getting married to him after college.

But deep down she has thought about going to law school but thinks it would be wrong to go onto more schooling to peruse a career instead of getting married and having children. Giselle Levy is the promiscuous girl of the group. She is smart as well and agrees with a lot of the things Ms. Watson is teaching the girls. I think she is a feminist unknowingly until she realizes what its all about. She breaks away from traditions and has affairs with married men. Betty Warren is extremely against Watson’s feminist perspectives. Betty is engaged and gets married during the film.

She has the idea in her head that once you get married, life is grand while taking care of your husband and staying at home to raise the children. While on her honeymoon she misses a lot of classes and Ms. Watson doesn’t stand for it. Connie, another young woman in the art class, says that the staff at Wellesley turns their head when a recently married girl misses class. There is a heated battle between Warren and Watson for the majority of the film until Warren realizes that married life isn’t what it was supposed to be. Katherine Watson’s character goes in two opposite directions.

In the beginning she is very liberal and feminist with her teachings and values. She came to Wellesley to make a difference and push the idea of careers vs. marriage. She encouraged the students to think for themselves and arrive at their own judgments. But as the movie goes along, she becomes the teacher that follows rules and traditions and looses herself. She was told to stick to the syllabus and only teach art. She was not to befriend the students and counsel them on anything other than art history. Ms. Watson realized what she isn’t doing isn’t her and decides to leave Wellesley.

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Feminism in 'Mona Lisa Smile" Assignment. (2021, Jul 28). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://anyassignment.com/art/feminism-in-mona-lisa-smile-assignment-44706/