Grey Gardens and the Changing Landscape of Women's Roles in Society
This classic film is a great way to approach many subjects related to women in society. Begin by introducing the subject of Jacqueline Kennedy's influence on society as First Lady during Camelot through the film's protagonist Edie Bouvier Beale who was Jackie's older cousin. Discuss how she was essentially left behind in life as we see the consequences of her choices play out in the film. Discuss how she was expected and basically destined to trot a path much like Jackie's as the wife of a great successful American man and what led to her taking the path she did to end up the spinster reliving her glory days as a onetime Broadway hopeful during her Barbizon days as Body Beautiful Beale? . What choices did women have for their life path during the era of Edie's youth in the 1930s? How did that change for Jackie's generation and how is it even different for today's girls? How would Little Edie's life have possibly been different if she was growing up today? Discuss Big Edie's trajectory and her life choices that caused her to become a banished black sheep living out her days in squalor at Grey Gardens? She wanted to be a singer which was unheard of for wealthy women of her ilk in the 1930s. Discuss the cycle of poverty that began with Big Edie's choice to ignore what society, including her husband and father expected her to do in order to remain in good financial standing. Cut off from basic necessities, she was the martyr for artists waging war against the bureaucrats, as she described herself and Edie. How did the ladies suffer for being who they wanted to be? Was it worth it? Why or why not? How can they be used as positive role models for individuals stepping out of convention to follow their own drum? Should Would Little Edie have been better off if she had married well like Jackie? Would Big Edie have fared better if she had been less flamboyant to appease her father and husband? What do you think about the way women's identities were as extensions of their husbands? How has modern society changed regarding women's roles in the era since Edie's youth in 1930s,-- Jackie's heyday in 1960s, through the production of the film in early 1970s? Discuss.