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Lester Burnham is like Blake’s “invisible worm.” A phallic symbol ofmanhood, the worm seeks to devirginize the rose.Much the same, Lesteranticipates deflowering the young Angela.The “howling storm” in the poem is the setting of violation,and in the movie, it is a parallel to the uncontrollable calamity occurringinside the house.
More recently, directors such as Sam Mendez haveexposed the raw cruelty of sexual anxiety and of corrupt politics on thesilver screen.
In this paper, I will compare Mendez’s movie American Beautyand Blake’s poem “The Sick Rose” and show how they each utilize theconcepts of sexual immorality and political corruption.
Mendez’s movie, American Beauty attempts to depict the sexualdesperation of an older, middle-aged man lusting after a young girl.
Notunlike Blake’s poem, “The Sick Rose,” Mendez’s movie contains numerousobjects of symbolism, the prominent one being a scarlet rose.
In both the movie and the poem, a “life is destroyed” and purity is sadlylost forever.
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Both focus on two central themes, one of violent sexualinfatuation.
Like Blake’s rose, Angela is sick with an unnaturaland unhealthy need for the attention of a much older man.
The onlydifference between the two objects of desire is Blake’s rose is sick afterit has been violated, Angela is sick before.
The movie is not only a cry for help but also a callfor change.
It exposes the ugly face of dysfunctional family life commonlyhidden behind the mask that is American suburbia.