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January 29, 2022, 07:05:26 am

Author Topic: Text Response Feedback - All About Eve  (Read 5330 times)  Share 

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Text Response Feedback - All About Eve
« on: February 27, 2015, 07:54:08 pm »
Hi guys, I'd appreciate any feedback on this sample essay. I ran it through my teacher today, and he said I basically need to incorporate more cinematographic elements. I'm struggling to find alot of these (particularly lighting and costume), so any help would be much appreciated.

Also, this essay ended up being longer than I'd anticipated it to be (about 1.2k words), so if you'd like to just go through a paragraph or so that would still be massively helpful.


‘In the film, marriage is offered as a solution to the problem of women growing older.’ Discuss.

Set in the deeply conservative 1950’s era America, Mankiewicz’s 1950 film All About Eve uses a circular narrative to chronicle the rise to stardom of Machiavellian young actress Eve Harrington. Eve’s ascension into fame is juxtaposed to the gradual decline of “aging star” Margo Channing. To Margo, marriage is offered as a means of mitigating this decline. However, it is contentious as to whether marriage is “offered” to women or rather forced onto them as a measure of satisfying the societal expectation for them to be “happy little housewives”. Additionally, it is clear that even when the women have accepted the “solution” of marriage, they are unhappy with their situations, as shown by Karen’s insecurity regarding her “career” and her relationship with Lloyd. All About Eve explores the notions of a women getting older and the use of marriage as a “solution” to this “problem”.

The superficial nature of the society in which All About Eve takes place means that youth and beauty is valued above talent and experience. Although the film focuses on the microcosm of the theatre industry, it reflects the societal values at the time. Consequently, the aging of “star of the theatre” Margo Channing is viewed as problematic by the theatre fraternity. Lloyd is forced to have to write parts that are “20 years younger” than Margo’s actual age to “keep people from walking out the door”. This results in Margo’s insecurity regarding her future as an actress, who herself states that she only still acts because she has “nothing to do with (her) nights”. Margo’s insecurity regarding her age extends to her marriage. She is threatened by Eve’s insinuation into her life, as Eve is comparatively much younger and hence more attractive. This difference between Margo and Bill reinforces this threat, and Margo herself confesses that she wants to be “feminine, young and beautiful… all of these things Eve is” for Bill. Margo’s age disparity with Eve is highlighted in the staircase scene. Eve is sitting with Bill, wearing bright, relatively revealing clothing that showcases her youth and beauty.  Flattering lighting reinforces this portrayal of her as youthful and exuberant. Later, Margo emerges from the rear of the shot, perhaps indicative of her newfound status in the theatre industry as a result of her age. She is placed in front of a portrait of a younger woman, perhaps suggesting what Margo aspires to be. Additionally, the dim light and her dark clothing allow Mankiewicz to reinforce this idea of her aging. The trouble that aging brings to both Margo’s career and relationships mean that it can be seen as a problem in the context of 1950’s America and the theatre industry.

Marriage is presented by Mankiewicz as a positive alternative to the “problems” associated with aging in 1950’s America. Like wider society at the time, the theatre fraternity endorses marriage and hence male dominance over female as a way of reinforcing the patriarchal construction of gender roles. However, marriage is not so much “offered” to women in All About Eve as it is thrust upon them, namely through social and political pressures that conform to societal expectation. Karen Richards had long since surrendered herself to these expectations before the events of the film, marrying playwright Lloyd Williams after they met in college. Juxtaposed to Karen and Richards long-term relationship is independent career-woman Margo Channing, who faces the women’s dilemma of having a career or satisfying societal pressures and finding a man to “wake up next to”. Margo idolizes Karen’s position as a “happy little housewife”, and this viewpoint is reinforced by Mankiewicz throughout the film. Karen is portrayed as an angelic figure of an American conservative woman, with favorable lighting and moderate clothing. In many ways, Karen can be seem as the embodiment of the ideal housewife – she is refined, cultured (as shown by her prestigious education and painting hobby) and most importantly subservient to her husband, so much so that she admits her only talent is “loving her husband”. The desirable portrayal of Karen and her marriage by Mankiewicz means that All About Eve can be viewed as a film that offers marriage as a means of mitigating the problems facing an aging women.

Women who break the societal norm and choose not to marry are depicted as unhappy and unfulfilled with life. Margo is portrayed as the antithesis of Karen’s femininity. At her birthday party, she drinks, smokes and acts in an abusive manner – characteristics typically associated with masculinity. However, this is shown to have a debilitating effect on Margo, as she frequently fights with Bill about the proposition of accepting her femininity and getting married. The frequent use of harps to represent Margo supports this interpretation, as when Margo fights with Bill on the stage, a spring is shown to be broken on the harp. This suggests that Margo can be “strung” if “played with” too hard. Additionally, this also reinforces the idea that women are “instruments” of men, perhaps reflecting the wider societal values of the 1950’s. Ultimately, Margo succumbs to the pressure and decides to swap her acting career for “a career all women have – being a wife”. As soon as she decides to get married to Bill, she is shown to be uncharacteristically happy in the Cub Room and is cast in a favorable lighting similar to Karen, perhaps suggesting that Margo will now live out a happy and fulfilled life now that she has decided to marry. Throughout All About Eve, marriage is used as a positive tool to alleviate the pressures and expectations placed on aging women who choose to deviate from the societal norm.

Although marriage is presented as a “solution” in All About Eve, the happiness of the women who accept this “solution” is at best ambiguous, and at worse non-existent. Throughout the film, Karen presents a façade of being a “happy little housewife”. However, Mankiewicz suggests that there could be underlying problems with her relationship with Lloyd. Karen, like most of the women in the film, is shown to be insecure about her career and relationships. She is unsatisfied with married life, reduced to a dull monotonous existence of painting fruit when she could have potentially had her own career fueled by her own prestigious education. This is highlighted by Karen herself when she resignedly states that she “has no talent to offer but loving my husband”. However, it appears that this love is not reciprocated by Lloyd, as the insinuation of Eve into the theatre fraternity threatens to draw him away from Karen. It is implied by Mankiewicz that Lloyd sleeps with Eve, as he answers a late night phone call from her and abandons Karen to join Eve, much to Karen’s dismay. The only thing that stops the supposed inevitable marriage of Eve and Lloyd (according to Eve) is Addison’s intervention. Despite the fact that marriage is offered as an ailment to the women of All About Eve, it is clear that marriage is not solely positive and that it propagates the underlying issues that women already faced in this patriarchal society.

Mankiewicz’s All About Eve explores the notions of marriage as a “solution” to the “problems” that face aging women in a patriarchal society. Like in the 1950’s, women in the film are valued for their youth and beauty, and older actresses, despite being talented, are rejected from the theatre industry to make room for their younger counterparts. As such, marriage is offered as a solution to this problem faced by aging actress Margo Channing, who ultimately succumbs to societal pressures and chooses to marry. However, it is clear that even in marriage women are still unsatisfied with their lives, as shown by Karen’s insecurity regarding her relationship with Lloyd. Ultimately, All About Eve is a film that portrays life in the patriarchal setting of 1950’s America for women as both fleeting and unfulfilling, as they are valued only for their youth and beauty before they must consign themselves to lives as unsatisfied wives to their husbands.


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Re: Text Response Feedback - All About Eve
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2016, 01:08:47 pm »
I read through your piece and I wrote down what you had embedded in each paragraph and your links made to the prompt and to the ideas. Overall this is a brilliant piece in my opinion.
I mark it with an A or A+. 

Some things I jotted down that you done really well were;

-Directly addressing prompt...in the intro "the problem", "solution" and you altered "offered" to n"forced to be a more relevant word for your ideas when referring to "marriage is offered" (prompt)
-Using pronoun links..."This..."
-Using connecting words..."Additionally", "Despite the fact...", "Ultimately"
-A very coherent piece, flowed nicely, easy to read
-It is clear for the examiner to see that you have an understanding of the film...you briefly explain the plot in the intro

Amazingly you...
-wrote about at least 3 characters in each paragraph instead of just using 1character per paragraph
-you then compared those characters, with their similarities and differences (Eve and Margo in paragraph 1)
-you outlined the comparison..."Eve is comparatively much younger..."
-your ideas linked, especially by repeating "loving husband" in p2 and p4... but using it as evidence to back up a different idea
 p2 and p4 the example of Karen painting is highlighted but again it is used to back up two different ideas
Re-embedding the quotes/ideas a few times throughout the piece, in different paragraphs makes the piece a strong discussion and shows (well to me anyway)
 that you explored the prompt/text more, you delved into more detail and interpretations

An error I noticed was "Lloyd Williams" p2. Lloyd's surname is actually Richards, not Williams.

Well done, also I have learnt a few things from this essay. Thankyou for posting it.