A Psychoanalytic Analysis of Pretty Woman Essays

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A Psychoanalytic Analysis of Pretty Woman

In the introduction to his book, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Zizek acquaints readers with his book’s tripartite aim. He plans, among other things, to illustrate concepts fundamental to Lacanian psychoanalysis – an intention which will serve to further his more ambitious goal “to reactualize Hegelian dialectics by giving it a new reading” in the light of Lacanian psychoanalysis – and “to contribute to the theory of ideology via a new reading of some well-known classical motifs” (7). In this broad category of classical motifs associated with the theory of ideology, I have isolated both fetishism and the commodity-form and intend to briefly illustrate some of these concepts against
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Technically his book, The Sublime Object of Ideology, was published in 1989, so one can only wonder about whether Zizek would have included commentary on the quasi-Cinderella romantic comedy, Pretty Woman, released in the following year. It certainly warrants a more exhaustive study, but focusing briefly on a few key points in the movie – particularly in the light of theory concepts such as ideology, fetishism, and the commodity-form – should prove equally interesting. While some critics attacked the movie's fantastical plot – charming hooker/heroine Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts, is “picked up” and essentially “rented” by troubled corporate mogul Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere, with the pair eventually falling in love and living “happily ever after” – it was a complete box office success. The film has brought in 178 million dollars since its release in 1990, placing it among the top 50 grossing movies of all time (Internet Movie Database Ltd.).

Pretty Woman displays our fascination of “fetishism” of the commodity-form on multiple levels. We have the relatively straightforward case of prostitution, for instance, where sex and the woman's
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