Professor Michael Miller
Argument and Persuasion in Humanities
12 March 2015
Working Girl’s Negative Outlook of Marxist Theory
Working Girl, directed by Mike Nichol, recalls a rags-to-riches story in a modern society where the class divisions are precisely sharp. Set in the 1980s, the film provides a historical situation of inequitable distribution: this inequity sways all the characters’ behavior. Though Tess McGill and Jack Trainer spark up a romance, it is Tess’ acquisitiveness that make the romance sizzle. In order to impersonate the bourgeoisie, Tess undergoes an extraordinary transformation. Tess, a proletariat, learns that if she wants to get ahead, she has to act, talk, and dress like the bourgeoisie. The film offers clear evidence of conspicuous consumption—the clothing Tess’ boss, Katherine Parker, wears—suggesting a negative example of the Marxist theory and a tacit endorsement of the free market.
The film symbolically opens with the playing of “Let The River Run”, performed and written by Carly Simon and a sweeping panoramic of Manhattan, America’s capitalists epicenter. The song evokes a story of a dreamer—great and small, standing on a star while blazing a trail of desire—breaking through the fog, climbing the ladder, reaching towards the bourgeoisie. Currently working as a secretary, Tess has figured out that if she wants to be taken seriously, she needs to change the way she talks. Tess tells her friend, Cyndy as the film opens, “No lunch. I got speech class.” (1) Tess’s Staten Island dialect won’t fly with the power brokers and movers and shakers in Manhattan. Tess knows the bourgeoisie speak with clear, confident words. So, Nichol’s dramatizes the process Tess has to endure to advance her class. Working Girl shows the extent of what one needs to do in order to achieve upper class status.
Climbing an uphill battle is never easy, even for a strong, independent woman like Tess. Surrounding yourself by others who can...
Cited: Working Girl, dir. Mike Nichols. Perf. Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver. Twentieth Century Fox, 1988. DVD.
Wade, Kevin. Working Girl (1988). Screenplay. Awesome Films.com. Web. 16 March 2015.
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