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The song, “The Sound of Silence”, deals with the constant theme of an absence of community. I can easily relate to the song as I often hear of the need to conform to society. It is our job to go to college, get a job, and follow the common practices of our world, without being unique. However, as I prepare to attend college, I must find what truly makes me happy and where I want to go in life. The song starts at the beginning of the film when Ben is returning home from graduating college. Ben personifies the song as he is questioning his place in the world, and where he should go. Ben is constantly berated by his parents. They ask, “Have you thought about graduate school?” and “It is about time you asked Elaine Robinson out on a date.” However, Ben begins to question the expectations of society. He doesn’t apply to graduate school, and instead begins chasing the girl of his dreams. He finds much greater happiness by following his heart, instead of chasing material wealth or conforming to the world. In addition, the song relates to the disappearance of community as his parents parade him around like an object, listing his accomplishments in college and making him ‘’the main attraction” to their friends. I have a very similar relationship with my parents. My mother will often brag about my experience at Brophy or exaggerate my accomplishments to other family members and friends. The song truly speaks to me as I try to find happiness within my own life by being unique, instead of following “the rules” of our society.
Paul Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson” highlights a central theme in The Graduate, as many characters mask their true emotions. This mask makes a constant appearance in our world today, as people want to hide their sadness or depression, by appearing strong and happy. In the movie, Mrs. Robinson finally gives in to Ben’s desire to talk. She tells him of her unhappy marriage with her husband, forced into it because of a pregnancy, which lead to their daughter Elaine. In addition, she tells of her passion for art, which disappeared after her marriage to her husband. Although Ben does not realize her sadness, the audience witnesses her despair through her facial expressions as she tells of her life. Another masking of emotions manifests itself during Ben’s and Elaine’s date. Having been warned by her mother, Ben hides his true character by taking Elaine to a strip club. Ben acts like a completely different person so that he will be finished with his date. However, Elaine differs from many other characters as she shows he true emotions and begins to cry. This causes Ben to realize his mistake. He begins to open up to Elaine as they talk about their fears in the world. This represents Ben losing his mask, as he begins talking about how he truly feels, instead of hiding these deeper emotions. The song serves as a lesson to the world, as we must realize that masquerading our emotions will only lead to greater unhappiness. We must learn to communicate with others and create deeper, more meaningful relationship with others.
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