By depicting a protagonist lost in a world unfit for him, “The Graduate” invites us to realize that influences will try to mold us, but we must not let them shape us… into…Benjamin comes home, having graduated as a stellar student, is welcomed by his parents and friends with a celebration. All the people who attend the welcoming are older individuals, none of whom are Benjamin’s own friends. Benjamin, with a blank expression in front of a fish tank, depicts himself being underwater symbolizing a feeling of being trapped and drowning in a world of which he does not want to belong. Dedicated to his parents’ desire to send Benjamin off to college, he made no time for friends or relationships with others. As Benjamin’s father arrives and inquires, “What seems to be the matter?” Ben replies, “…my future. I want it to be different”. The reminiscence of the fish tank behind Ben reminds of his want for a different future. Benjamin’s parents have sent him to college, because of their heart’s desire to divulge their son’s accomplishment to their friends, and tell how well Benjamin has done. This created a sense of pressure for Benjamin, causing him to devote himself to success in college to impress his parents. However, this is not truly what Benjamin wanted. Benjamin expresses an unsureness as to where his future is headed. He longs for his future to be different, then begins to realize that what his parents want for him contradicts the destiny for which he longs. Parents have their own ideals of what is best, and set goals for their offspring. While this may create guidance, it could also lead to feelings of intense pressure or a sense of failure. One’s first influence in this world is one’s parents, and this dogma sometimes shapes one’s sense of self-development. Additionally, this could influence our perspectives towards life. Sometimes, however, parents’ best interest do not reflect one’s own goals, therefore creating pressure to find a medium so as not to cause disappointment. When Benjamin’s parents request a demonstration of his new scuba gear, without any consideration to his emotions, they coerce him to show off this new supplies which had been given to him. This reminds us of a world in which Ben is disenchanted, thus taking part in something against social acceptability. It is at this point, Benjamin engages in entertaining Mrs. Robinson. Benjamin find himself lost in this world, trying to understand what to make of his life, sits in daze finding comfort in a new-found world. “Well, I would say that I am just drifting here in the pool.”, Benjamin expresses. He is not only floating, but drifting in the pool, letting the water take him anywhere. Benjamin comes across as comfortable for a moment, seemingly without a care in the world, soon after he begins to experience the pressure from his father again. Again Ben attempts to relax, all the while being circled and pestered by his parents, pressuring him about Elaine. Ben is ever trapped between his parents guidance, and his own life decisions. Benjamin feels he has lost the will of his identity and is trapped again by his parents. Once again Ben succumbs to the pressures of his parents and takes Elaine out on a date, although doing so is against the promise he made to Mrs. Robinson. One of the most dynamic burdens of life are that of a greater group: society. Similar to the way in which parents attempt to push what is felt to be best for their offspring, as does society. As individuals, one may constantly feel that one is being influenced into taking certain career paths, and that we must be successful, above all, to live in all the richness of a good life. However, these trends only continue to perpetuate pressure. Ben establishes a world of the superficial during his interactions with other characters. For instance, once at the beginning of the film, as Benjamin is ushered into a full house of family and friends who only bombard him with questions and forced conversations. Such conversations could be overwhelming, and Ben expresses there was no opportunity to even catch a breath. Being stuck in situation like the one Ben was in established that he was clearly feeling out of place. Furthermore, this establishes the characters in a world of “plastics”. Ben is in a place that seems to be established as superficial, uncomfortable, and finally the vivid need is Ben’s hunt to change his future, thus preventing him from becoming another one of these “plastics”. Benjamin creates new relationships, the first being with Mrs. Robinson, which is built on sexual desire. Benjamin’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson, however, is very superficial. Benjamin, during one of his most dejected moments in life, was exploited by Mrs. Robinson. Soon after this turn of events, Benjamin begins to realize that what he truly desires is a thing more profound than just the sex. Mrs. Robinson, a symbolism of superficiality in the form of sex, seemingly traps Benjamin, with her physical appeals. Ben can be viewed as being uncomfortable at the beginning, nearly reneging on Mrs. Robinson’s carnal offer. Eventually, however, Mrs. Robinson challenges Benjamin’s pride by calling him “inadequate,” sparking an emotion inside Ben that urges him to physically prove to himself. It is at this point where Benjamin first disregarded what society deems appropriate, while accepting the risks involved in this disregard. As Ben’s affairs with Mrs. Robinson continues throughout the summer, he finds himself happy for the first time, giving him a feeling of being freed from previous pressures. Ben no longer feeling push down under water by his parents, but instead is comfortably floating. This can be seen as a reminder that one cannot always escape from one’s pressures. One may be able to push off pressures, but the pestering will never truly disappear. Ben eventually realizes that the affair with Mrs. Robinson is fulfilling him on a superficial physical level, but has not provided any profound emotional satisfaction. When he tries to force a profound connection with Mrs. Robinson, it becomes apparent that that she is not willing. Mrs. Robinson attacks his pride by asserting that Benjamin is not good enough for her daughter, but Ben cannot muster the strength within to leave Mrs. Robinson. Instead, Benjamin angrily attempts to end the affair, yet still does not have power to leave. He returns to bed and says, “Let’s not talk about it. Let’s not talk at all…”, then promises never to date Elaine. Ben, once again been manipulated and shown a lack of dominance to overcome Mrs. Robinson’s temptations. He regresses back this superficial satisfaction and even though he may not realize it yet, but it is evident at this point that something is missing. Benjamin wanting to create a connection with someone he can sympathize and share similar thoughts. Benjamin tries to communicate with Mrs. Robinson but is turned down. On the other hand, due to the relationship he builds with Mrs. Robinson, he tries to avoid any connections with Elaine. Benjamin later begins to realize that he has a greater connection with Elaine then he does with Mrs. Robinson. We tend to call those that we build a connection with our “friends”, and those that we don’t, our “acquaintances”. As Benjamin realizes that what he and Elaine share are similar experiences, he begins to break free from his pressures of his parents and Mrs. Robinson and in search to marry Elaine. Ben discover someone with true emotion and it is what he has been looking for. They both are deep down trying to get out of this world that they are trapped in. We may have forces that may want to tear apart our work or interest that define us and work so far to achieve, but we must accepts the consequences in order to be true to ourselves and to the ones we love. We may be faced with the superficial but we must no longer give into the traps of those superficial forces around us and take action against others to choose our interest versus others. Even though there will be obstacles, just like Ben has taken action trying to do what’s right, he has lost everything, but it is during these dark points in our lives when all hopes and dreams seem to be raining down that we must hold on to them because they are our own and have made us what we are. At a point, Ben finds himself standing between the two worlds and makes a decision for himself. He goes to his parents and tells them that he is going to marry Elaine Robinson. The pressures of his parents begin to arise as Mr. Robinson tells “Ben this whole idea seems pretty half baked” this may not sound fully thought through but Ben manages to break free through those pressures and tells him, “No its not. It’s completely baked. It’s a decision I’ve made. To be perfectly honest she doesn’t like me.”Tired of being told what is best for him, he breaks free from all the voices that try to tell him what to do and get the courage to actually follow what he desires. Benjamin at this point has transitioned further from the self-conscious world of the plastics. He doesn’t care how foolish his plan sounds to his parents, he has made up his own mind and no outside influence or manipulation will change it. We must separate further away from the unfit world and challenge the will to remove ourselves from these other influences. The final transformation has been made and now it is time to test whether he has what it takes to go against his old world and stand up against all odds to achieve the object of his desire. Ben wards off Mrs. Robinson with a cross and fights his way out of the church in a sense trapping those, his parents, parent’s friends and the Robinsons. He has fought against the unfit world escaping the entrapment and manipulation of the plastics and marks the rebirth of Ben. But the resolution of the story occurs very quickly as they escape the others and the two of them ride away in the bus. At first they are smiling, but then their smiles slowly fade away and look at each other with an awkward expression. Finally, Ben has the same face that resembles that from the beginning of the film, when he sits emotionless on the airplane. In order to escape from the pressures we must first break from the controls of others.
There are several agents of orientation that influence a person’s identity; parents, neighbors, peer, religion, etc. Everyone has one and nobody has the same. Everyone in this world has a different identity because they all make their own over the course of their life time. There are many different factors that contribute to ones identity as it is a part of a persons being. It guilds your decision making, your thoughts, ideas, and dreams. It is what makes up the individual’s ability to think, reason and form an opinion. That is why one should stop living their lives for others as these can only create pressures. A person’s identity begins at childhood and its development is an ongoing, lifelong process.