Impression Management And The Presentation Of Self : A Comparative Analysis Of Heathers And Easy A.

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Impression Management and the Presentation of Self: A Comparative Analysis of Heathers and Easy A As William Shakespeare famously wrote in his play As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare, 1599). To sociologist Erving Goffman, this quote is far more than just a line of text — it offers an explanation as to how we navigate social institutions. With the conviction that at the heart of human interaction is the desire to manage impressions through the artificial construction of self, Goffman developed his theory, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,” in 1956. According to Goffman, this construction of self, which we do in an attempt to control how others perceive us, is made possible through the utilization of three major sign vehicles: setting, appearance, and manner. In the case of Heather Duke from 1980s cult classic Heathers and Olive Penderghast from the 2010 teen comedy Easy A, the way in which they employ these sign vehicles to navigate the high school offers substantive insight into the way social environments affect the way one might want to be perceived. Referred to as the “dramaturgical approach to social life and the self,” Goffman’s theory on human interaction hinges on the concept that the “self” does not inherently exist within a person, but instead is actively performed (Goffman, Appelrouth & Edles, 2010, p. 479). In his piece “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,” Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to the presentation of self is multifaceted. In order to convey information about the self to others, Goffman argues that people commonly use what he refers to as sign vehicles: setting, appearance, and manner. As the name suggests, the setting is the environment where human action occurs. Appearance refers to how the individual looks and manner is characterized by the way an individual acts. Generally, an individual’s performance provides an opportunity to present to others an “impression that is idealized in several different ways” (Goffman, 1956, p. 22). Goffman also addresses the structure of face-to-face engagements in his piece “Behavior in Public Places.” Since these interactions are social in nature, Goffman explains that “in

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