Marriage Proposals and Self-Worth in Legally Blonde

Last class we talked about Lacan’s idea of ratification–or affirmation of your worth and identity from an outside source–and it hit me that although Elle Woods appears to become a powerful, self-confident woman at the end of Legally Blonde, her development begins and ends with how other people respond to her actions, proposing marriage being the only true affirmation of her character.  In the beginning of the film, Elle’s only goal in order to become happy/complete is to get the six-carat Harry Winston diamond ring from Warner through a marriage proposal, but, as the story continues, she seems realize that she is capable of being more than Warner’s trophy-wife. She stands up and proves herself to several characters who doubt her abilities and takes risks throughout the film, but the bonus subtitles during the graduation scene seem to pull her right back into the CULA sorority house when she was preparing for the proposal she thought she was going to get at the beginning of the film.

After she miraculously gets herself into Harvard Law School, overcomes the setbacks from her first day of classes, gets an important internship, makes friends with her former-enemies, resists sexual harassment from an esteemed professor, then steals a case from said professor and wins, the director and writers still chose to bookend closing scene with Elle’s most important success in the film: the prospect of Emmett’s marriage proposal.  The shot fades from the caption informing us that tonight is the big night for Elle and Emmett to a shot of Elle taking what is presumably a sigh of relief because, after all her hard work, she is finally getting what she wanted from attending Harvard: her “Mrs.”

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One thought on “Marriage Proposals and Self-Worth in Legally Blonde

  1. True! The ending to Legally Blonde would be more satisfying if it didn’t include the part about Emmett proposing, because with this ending it feels like she’s just going back to where she started.

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