February 05, 2005

Self-Overcoming in Bernice Bobs her Hair

Bernice's apparant lack of willpower should not obscure the truth that she is willing to develop by abandoning the comfortable dogmas she is taught, not once but twice. Her initial conservatism, a product of her upbringing in a wealthy family attuned to the values of pre-commerical economic life, is a hinderance to her acceptance in a dating world transformed by the revolutionized economic system. Given the expanded process of commodification and corresponding decline in importance of such factors as family origins and tradition, Bernice must transform herself from a link in social/family connections (as a daughter expected to solidify family social links by marrying into another influencial family in the aristocratic model) into an interesting, attractive commodity to be haggled over by men (as a more personal status symbol of achieved desire and accomplishment, not unlike the new cars the young men drive around in, to accessorize their lives). This she accomplishes by surrendering her old values for the values of Marjorie. Afterwards, when she realizes that her existence has become that of a commodity, whose values rise and fall in relation to the Demand of the market (ie her peers), she once again rejects the prevailing values, takes agency and, for the first time, becomes a true subject whose actions are no longer simply dictated by the expectations of others. "Scalp the selfish thing" In essence, she overcomes the social restrictions through an act of barbarism that revolts against the "civilized" codes of behavior of both the old aristocratic and new bourgeois mentalities. Rousseau would be proud.

Posted by JamesStutzman at February 5, 2005 02:14 PM
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