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Edward Scissorhands is an American film set in the 1990s about an artificial man called Edward, who has plastic hands. Edward is taken into a suburban family to live with them, after which he develops affections towards the family's young teenage daughter. Except for a few members of the community, Edward, despite his eccentric hands made of scissors, he ends up earning the community-wide acceptance of everyone in the small, cordial community. Members of his family, and later his community, realize that he is a kind-hearted person and learn to accept and love him.
In return to the kindness shown to him by the immediate family and neighboring community, Edward Scissorhands offers trimming services for the various family homes' hedges, shaping them into attractive and creative topiaries. Gradually he also starts to cut neighborhood dogs and finally the hair of the women living in his immediate community. Some of his new friends and friends of his family even suggest to him to open a salon within which he would treat women's hair quickly. Following a few unfortunate events that happen in quick succession, however, Edward ends up shunned by the entire community except for his initial family, the Boggs household.
The first event is when Joyce, the lady who offers to show him around potential locations for his salon, attempts to seduce him. This overture does not work instead of scaring him away. She ends up turning the story on him, accusing him to the rest of the community women of trying to seduce him. The second event is when the community bank denies him a loan to start his salon because he does not have a financial profile nor does he have an economic history with which they could grant him a loan. The third event is when Jim, Kim's boyfriend, sets him up to commit a burglary, for which he is charged and incarcerated.
Edward story ends tragically following a series of conflicts with close members of the community and his circle. This is a demonstration of how pivotal the surrounding community usually is to our well-being and flourishing. When the small town community in which we live accepts you, despite any strange history, it becomes easy to adapt and thrive in that community. On the other hand, the moment the community rejects any of its members is the moment the turmoil begins for that particular member and any of their friends and any projects that they may be engaged in. Rejection by the community is a potent recipe for tragedy.
The story of Edward reflects the story of a misunderstood young man growing up in the suburban town of Burbank. The film's director managed to impart some of his childhood experiences into the film, which reflects the role that the community plays towards the themes of self-discovery and isolation (Burton et al., 1990). It is evident in the film that these two themes are intricately intertwined, with one needing the other to flourish. It is also apparent from the film, that once one fails, the other automatically follows. Once one fails to discover their potential and abilities within the setting of community, it is highly likely that the community would shun them as an outcast, leading to isolation.
This is one of many American films that are set in small towns with storylines that happen in tight-knit communities, with the sole purpose of demonstrating the role that communities play in the development of our abilities and character. Widespread acceptance by the community precedes acceptance by ourselves while the vice versa also often rings true. In the story of Edward Scissorhands, only his immediate family can sympathize with his lonely predicament, after his original creator passed on. Peg Boggs, his initial host, took pity on him and decided to introduce him to her family and get to know him. This is yet another indication of how easy it is to sink into depression and loneliness if one's society decides not to pay attention to any of its members.
American society is a melting pot of various cultures and identities. The United States, by its very composition, has carved its psyche by being accepting of people from all walks and cultures, as long as they adhere to the societal norms of togetherness and national unity. This can be seen in the small town around which the story of Edward Scissorhands is told. Every family is concerned about their neighbor and the next person. Everybody would like to know what is happening in the next person's life. Families keep checking on each other. This exemplifies the type of social cooperation that binds American society together, starting from the small towns to all the different states and the whole country as a whole.
This national psyche is what turned the story of Edward Scissorhands, which supposed to be only the Boggs' family story, into the account of a whole community. Almost overnight, he had turned from a weird member of the \Boggs family into a nearly constant fixture in the surrounding community. American culture is visible from the fact that he interacts with the local police, neighbors, friends, and even the local financial banking system. Edward Scissorhands, in a somewhat tragic way, has also managed to obtain a lover from his immediate family, Kim Boggs. All these examples go to show how accepting of a different individual from them the American society can be.
The relationship between Burbank and the surrounding neighborhood is that of cordial friendliness that is typical of the ordinary American suburbs. Everyone knows everything about everybody in the close-knit, pastel-colored neighborhood. The community is also a peaceful, idyllic environment, and this, combined with the strong cast and the compelling narrative made for a great film that moviegoers still appreciate to date. The trimmed trees and neat driveways also represent how every household, and by extension, every society within America wants to maintain the illusion of peace and well-being at all times.
The gothic mansion, however, from whence Edward Scissorhands originated, stands in stark contrast to the seemingly bright suburban settlement that sprawls around it. This is in the representation of the extremities that are known to exist in American society, starting from the growing wealth gap between the very rich and the middle class within American society. The second contrast is the contrast between the generally conservative and moral fabric of American culture and the occasional incidents where a member of an otherwise peaceful community commits a heinous piece of homicide, feticide or otherwise similarly gruesome crime. This film, in particular, represents the 1950s era where the American society was generally mostly conservative yet the currents of societal and political change, especially in the backdrop of the civil rights movement, were beginning to be seen and felt.
As the host lady of the Edward Scissorhands , family Peg Boggs makes her rounds selling wares from Avon and is not able to make a single sale. This is perhaps indicative of the then economic situation where not a lot of Americans were then enabled with a durable purchasing power. It is safe to say that the economy back then may not have been doing too well. Morally speaking, the society seemed to be generally straightforward and upright, yet behind the scene, immorality was rife. This is indicated, for instance, when Joyce tries to seduce Edward Scissorhands, yet implicates him for attempted rape when he rejects her advances. Societal rot is also in full display when the entire society banishes the Boggs family for hosting and keeping a friendship with Edward Scissorhands, who has been repeatedly accused of being violent and sexually abusive.
Some of the roles that the community played in this film were the fact that the community was the fabric against which one measured their level of acceptance of both themselves and in the community. If the people rejected one in the same way that Edward Scissorhands was rejected for large portions of the film, then it became increasingly difficult for them to then accept themselves (Clarke, 93). The community here then becomes the scoreboard against which the person measures the level to which they may then take themselves, depending on the level of acceptance that the community has accorded to them.
There was also a sense of paranoia and distrust that was heightened at various points in this film. The community, therefore, serves as the canvas through which general feelings are expressed. This is further expressed through the fact that this neighborhood has short, small windows on the houses, perhaps to keep away visitors and strangers more so. The community in this movie has also been used to portray the feelings of anger, resentment, and appreciation towards Edward Scissorhands at various points within the field. Therefore community plays the role of mirroring the primary thematic emotions that the creators of the film would like to bring through multiple positions within the movie.
Burton, Tim, et al. Edward Scissorhands. 20th Century Fox, 1990.Clarke, Julie. "All Too Human: Edward Scissorhands." Screen Education 50 (2008): 93.
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Edward Scissorhands - The Small Town in Film and Literature. (2023, Jan 18). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/edward-scissorhands-the-small-town-in-film-and-literature
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