12 May 2022


The Incorrect Assertion of the American Dream

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Academic level: University

Paper type: Movie Review

Words: 1034

Pages: 4

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The Color Purple is the film that I will be analyzing regarding the topic of my paper. Relating it with Benjamin Franklin’s work, I believe the movie is wrong about achieving the American Dreams. Benjamin’s principle of the dream is that any person can gain prosperity, economic well-being, and community esteem through hard work and honest dealings with others. That is, work is the road via which one reaches affluence, and on the contrary, a person who works hard and utilizes his opportunities intelligently can assume that prosperity will be his reward. Franklin felt that every person in America could design his own social and economic status through his personal merits. He expounded that the options were limitless for those applying prudence, honesty, diligence, and the same virtues. As is evident in the film The Color Purple , Franklin’s assertion that the American Dream is available to all people is incorrect because of sexual abuse , racism, and gender inequality portrayed in the movie.  

Sexual abuse is a societal problem as well as a hindrance to Franklin’s American Dream and its availability to all persons. As seen in the movie, several female characters receive sexual harassment from their male counterparts. Celie, a teenager and a character in the movie, has had two children from his abusive father. “Dear God, I have sired my father’s children only at the age of fourteen.” Moreover, his father marries her to a widower, Albert “Mister” who also abuses her on several occasions. “I don’t feel anything when he does his business on me,” Celie confides on Shuga ( Maslin, 1985) . Nettie, a sister to Celie, also goes through the same. It happens when she joins her sister and Albert in the house, and on her way to school, Albert tries to abuse her. However, she defeats Albert and runs when he was about to rape her. As a consequence of not giving in to sexual harassment, Nettie is chased away from Albert’s property, and this ordeal sees her lose touch with her sister. On the other hand, Celie is unable to continue being happy and learn, which Nettie the only person who loved her used to offer. Franklin states well that with utilizing knowledge properly and hard work, everyone can achieve prosperity. Further, he expounds that people that possess similar virtues can achieve great things. Nonetheless, in The Color Purple Movie , qualities differ among characters making it hard to achieve the dreams. Sexual abuse leads to Celie and Nettie to be separated, and in the process, Celie is denied the ‘American Dream’ as she becomes unhappy and unable to continue learning new things that can guarantee success. 

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Franklin’s American Dream is made impossible by the presence of gender inequality in the film. Successes come along with honest dealings and respect for one another as Benjamin states it. Nonetheless, in the movie The Color Purple , these things do not apply. There is deceit and disrespect between men and women. Women are taken as men’s properties and objects in the film, and therefore, they cannot independently make their decisions. When Celie discovers that Mister has been hiding Nettie letters, she is carried into reading them, making her unable to hear Mister calling her for his shave where she gets beaten. This clearly shows how men devalue women in this movie to the extent of beating them up. Sofia a woman character in the movie too, is imprisoned for striking the town’s mayor who assaults her. It shows how men in the movie take women as their objects, denying them the right to fight back for their rights. The discussion between Celie’s father and Albert about marrying Celie off depicts this fact. There is also an admission by Sofia (Oprah) that she has been fighting throughout her life because she was a woman “Throughout my life I have been fighting; I fought my father, my own brothers, and men, I will not fight in my marriage,” Sofia complains to Celie. This admission proves that women do not have equal and the same opportunities as men in society. Towards the end of the film, Albert furiously puts it clear to Celie that she is poor, ugly, and above all, she is a woman and nothing at all “…look at you, you are black, you are poor, you are ugly, you are a woman, you are nothing at all,” Albert shouts to Celie ( Maslin, 1985) . The statement proves how men have no respect for women and put it as though their presence does not count. Through Celie’s experiences and Sofia’s admission that she had to fight, everyone, especially men, close to her to survive, are illustrations of gender inequality. Without unity and respect, achieving goals becomes uncertain. 

Racism plays out in the film, and for sure, it negatively affects the freedom and the opportunity of people. When any aspect is ruled on the basis of race, failure is expected. The freedom to work anywhere anytime without discrimination give individuals ways to explore into many and new opportunities hence meeting their desired dreams. Franklin argues that utilizing opportunities intelligently promotes prosperity. Mrs. Millie interacts with Sofia and her children, and in the process, she asks Sofia to become her maid, and the offer is declined “Hell no!” Sofia responds to Millie’s maid offer ( Maslin, 1985) . Mrs. Millie and her aides do not take this lightly, and Sofia is jailed because of the same. The fact that a black woman said no to a white woman within her rights led to the imprisonment of the black woman. This portrays how racism rules the movie with the white feeling superior to the blacks. The view they have for the black women makes them work as just maids who have no right to refuse that job. Sofia is later released, and with no options, she is forced to become Millie’s maid. When Nettie writes to Celie, she describes a young African girl called Tashia and compares the Tashi’s community with the whites who do not want Africans to get educated. “The road built by the white lead to the destruction of the church, school, and my hut,” Nettie writes to Celie. Relating this with Franklin’s arguments, the movie prohibits its characters from utilizing their opportunities by denying them the right to further education, thus making it difficult to achieve their dreams. The black people do not have a voice, and they cannot speak out their minds before the whites. Injustices are committed due to the same, hence; racism.

In conclusion, Sexual abuse, gender inequality, and racism affects where Celie comes from, and these problems are spread throughout the film. The characters in the film are sexually harassed, racially discriminated, and zero grounds on gender equality in society. Men abuse women, disrespects them, and view them as only objects for use and not people who can exercise their talents. They also feel superior with women as individuals who have no right to say or even make their own decisions. The whites discriminate against the black denying them a chance to explore, utilize, and learn new things that can, in one way, help them achieve their dreams. They view the blacks as individuals fit only for the maid occupation. Freedom, opportunities, and equity are not available to all persons in the film, and Franklin’s American Dream is incorrect in this regard. 


Maslin, Janet, (1985).  "Film: 'The Color Purple,' from Steven Spielberg" The New York Times

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