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Forrest Gump: Marxist and Feminist Analysis

In the 1990s, Paramount Studio room produced some box-office hits and one of which, Forrest Gump, is an enormous triumph that triumphed in the Oscar for Best Picture for 1994 and gained over $677 million us dollars of container office across the world. The film is situated upon the book by Winston groom and directed by Robert Zemeckis; it portrays the main role Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks), who's a normal American man, with an IQ of 75 so called as idiot, but effectively getting through his bittersweet child years, brilliant football career at collage, and daring performance in the army as well as a fortune in his shrimping business. Forrest's tale truly inspires the entire American with his significant achievements and positive behaviour towards life; in addition, the film shows a history of America over the past decades where take numerous traditional occurrences, representing the eventual American aspiration in a land of opportunity.

Forrest Gump is completely masculine film and Forrest Gump is without doubt the protagonist, two important females, his mom - Mrs. Gump and his best girl friend ever before - Jenny, however do present their thoughtful images in the film, making a great impact on Forrest's interior world and life. Appropriately, this article wish to focus on the above-mentioned women and explore that they influence Forrest with their particular characters and beliefs. Furthermore, a deeper degree of examination linked to patriarchal myths and prices in social framework will be proposed to show the status of the 1990s American society.

With the intent of arguing these tips, some film ideas should be certainly applied to the narrative in Forrest Gump. It's been predominant since the 1970s that film critics and scholars have converted from semiotics to psychoanalytical notions that been broadly utilized into the film analysis. As a result, it is very important indeed to hire these procedures into this content, theoretically handling feminist debates in conditions of the text messages in Forrest Gump. Furthermore, it can see through the way the hegemony is made in a patriarchal contemporary society in relation to feminism by the analysis within Marxism discourse.

Representations of Women in Forrest Gump

The two females are depicted in the film: one is Forrest's mother - Mrs. Gump (by Sally Field), who makes great contribution to Forrest's life; the other the first is Jenny Curran (by Robin Wright), as Forrest says about her: "she was my most special friend, my only friend". In general, both of these females can be identified as stereotypical representations of women using their social, ethnical and sexual description, extremely influencing Forrest into another representation of men in a patriarchal contemporary society as Hollows, Hutchings and Jancovich (2000, P230. ) expresses that "It really is a historical fact that women have developed an important part - of the audience for commercial entertainment films".

Mrs. Gump appears to be a single mother of Forrest. According to how Forrest values his mum, "she actually is an extremely smart lady", dependable, brave, and independent. She is good at managing her property inherited from her family, letting all the empty rooms to produce a living. No matter Forrest's low IQ, Mrs. Gump still insists on her behalf son's attending general population school rather than a special institution as she says that "my youngster Forrest is going to receive the same opportunities as everybody else"; She instructs Forrest that "stupid is as stupid does", motivating Forrest growing up to a normal and self-assured person. On the other hand, she really understands that life is packed with pros and cons, providing Forrest lessons such as "life was like a pack of chocolates. You never know very well what you're gonna get". To Forrest, Momma is always an outstanding model he learns from. Despite the fact that she is dying, Mrs. Gump calmly says to her boy "it's just my time. . . Avoid being afraid, death is just a part of life. It's something we're all destined to do. I didn't know it, but I used to be destined to be your momma. I did so best I could". Generally, the character of Mrs. Gump is a solid and independent female existence. However, her life is more than for herself; looking at completely Forrest's history, Mrs. Gump becomes a signifier of independence which may be seen as responding to to male needs and anxieties. Claire Johnston (2000), one of the first film critics to identify the film content material as a semiotic sign system, grows Barthesian semiotic perspective into her feminist innovations that the woman is available as a framework in the written text of classical Hollywood movies:

Iconography as a specific kind of sign or cluster of signals predicated on certain conventions within the Hollywood genres has been partly accountable for the stereotyping of women within the commercial theatre in general, however the fact that there surely is a lot better differentiation of men's functions than of women's assignments in the annals of the cinema relates to sexist ideology itself, and the essential opposition which places man inside history, and girl as ahistoric and eternal. (2000: 23)

In this value, Mrs. Gump is a sign being considered as a composition or a convention. Whatever Forrest recalls his mom, for example, he always starts off with words like "Momma always said" this or "Momma always said" that, which emphasis his mother's huge effect on him. The mother's amazing characteristics of determination, self-reliance and kindness are considered by Forrest who can overcome any challenges through his life. It demonstrates a system of exchange in classical movies that the representation of women as the ideological so this means is perfect for men rather than women. Hence, as Make and Johnston (1990) argues:

The male protagonist's castration anxieties, his seek out self-knowledge all converge on woman: it is in her that he's finally faced with the recognition of 'lack'. Female is therefore the locus of emptiness: she actually is a sign which is defined adversely: something that is absent which must be located so that the narcissistic goal of the male protagonist may be accomplished.

Besides, Jenny reveals her distinct aspect of the representation of women in Forrest Gump, who is depicted as an exceptionally confused personality. She spends most of her life finding herself, always anticipating that "Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly way, far away from here". Young Jenny is abused by her drunken daddy and continues to be with Forrest because she is terrified of loneliness. After senior high school, each goes to different colleges. In Forrest's sight, Jenny and he are just like peas and carrots since she friendly offers a chair on his first bus to school. However, the film typically reveals the dark, lonely and weak part of Jenny whom is totally unlike strong and indie Mrs. Gump; Jenny makes wrong decisions of being naked model for newspaper, performing at a strip club and taking drugs when Forrest sets off his successful life; particularly, a couple of times she desires to suicide. Regardless of when and where, Forrest always makes an attempt to save Jenny out of trouble through her journeys but eventually ends up Jenny's operating away every time. Jenny is Forrest's only love and he really does care about her, hoping his best to protect her. Finally, each goes alongside one another as what Forrest desires when Jenny chooses to settle down and marry Forrest.

Mrs. Gump and Jenny play important functions with respect to Forrest however in completely different ways. The semiotic investigation into the myth of ladies in the film words clarifies the women as a structure and exactly how they works as a signifier of ideology.

Psychoanalysis Concepts and Spectatorship Issues

Apart from theoretically analyzing the representation of ladies in Forrest Gump with the aid of semiotics discourses, psychoanalytic theory is actually to be taken as a crucial tool to be able to evidently exemplify women's differences from men in terms of absence and castration as well as discuss spectatorship according to Hollywood traditional cinema. Regarding to Janet McCabe (2004), "Psychoanalytic theory shifted from a semiotic concern with the text, to consider instead the unconscious operations involved in the way the spectator is positioned in and through the film text message" (p. 24). In this instance, Freud's and Lacan's psychoanalytic solutions significantly contribute to feminist film examination in terms of learning sexuality concerns within spectating methods.

Drawing on Freudian theory regarding scopophilia, voyeurism and fetishism as well as Lacanian mirror stage, in her article Visible Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mulvey (1975) establishes her point of male gaze and shows that film is set up according to male fantasies of voyeurism and fetishism.

In Forrest Gump, the take action of gaze employs a complex romance between the people, the audience and spectator. For instance, during his child years just before mum tries to sign up him to the general public school, Forrest rests on a swing outside the house during the night, reading the principal's grunts in the house. Forrest then grunts, imitating when the principal steps out, making him feel embarrassed. It is evident that Mrs. Gump becomes an thing for both main and her boy to view, however, what echo from them are varied: for the principal, she actually is an erotic impact and enjoyable looking; for her son, it seems his first time to identify his mother does not own her penis but he recently assumes that she must have, so he believes mother's one must have been castrated. The field shows Mulvey's (1989) argument from a feminist perspective: "it clearly conveys how male castration panic involves be projected onto the feminine form, which is then appropriated as a fetish. . . how woman is represented adorned with phallic patterns" (p 8).

In addition, Forrest's looking at Jenny throughout her voyage shows Mulvey's (2000) view of male gaze: female plays a 'traditional exhibitionistic role' - her is organized as a unaggressive erotic subject for the gaze of male spectators, so that they can project their fantasies on to her. For instance, Forrest's sitting in the torrential rain during the night and looking at her kissing with a boy in the car make him in the position of passive voyeur; his another overlooking Jenny's breasts while she gets rid of her bra in the dorm room presents Jenny herself as erotic spectacle for Forrest, then his productive gaze renders her image into an subject of sexual dream; before being delivered to the War, Forrest comes to the night team, seated in his couch just as as the spectator, seeing Jenny and sharing with audience in the theatre his restless gaze when she is topless, sitting on excrement and participating in a electric guitar on the stage. All these Forrest's overlooking Jenny at his different situations apparently oscillates between voyeurism and fetishistic fascination.

Marxist Criticism and Cultural Studies

Along with psychoanalytical, feminist and social criticism, Marxist criticism is an especial approach to expose a collection of concealed meanings in movies rather than talking about representations of women or sexuality from a sociological perspective.

According to Marxist theory, the film presents the Repressive Express Apparatus as Forrest is going through his life: the assassination make an effort on George Wallace, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy; the struggles over civil protection under the law and the warfare in Vietnam. At this time, Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) primarily appears as a strong portrayal in the army with "a long, great military tradition", but eventually ends up dropping his both legs in the warfare then being inspired consistently by Forrest's plain ideology, visitors thus see he eventually detects the real meaning of the life span along with his new mental thighs, which present a positive communication to the ideological issue that all the Americans wonder like Forrest Gump: "what's my destiny?"

Regardless its dynamics of unspoken yet unseen, ideology generally defines the shared values and values placed with a culture, it therefore hugely influences upon the culture with its invisible power. Somewhat, ideology sorts the manners of individuals think and things look, which is so called hegemony. In the film, either Mrs. Gump positively disciplines Forrest that "life is a container of chocolates" or Jenny leaves him a poor advice that "if you're ever in trouble, don't try to be fearless. . . Just run away", Forrest simply can take them at the unconscious level; nevertheless, running becomes his starting point to success and even leads a large group following behind him. Consequently, long lasting representation of women meaning to the male protagonist in the classical narrative cinema, or how he increases the fantasies of voyeurism and fetishism in light of psychoanalysis, it finally appears to visitors that Forrest's story asserts possibility and expectation even though troubles, loneliness, and death, as he says that "to put days gone by behind you and go forward". Accordingly, behind the images on display screen, Forrest Gump shows positive ideals that Us citizens should hold; the main characters pretty much, present these ideological status apparatuses in conditions of Marxism criticism. The film not only entertains audience with erotic spectacle and pleasure, offers its advice to audience with regard to the world and culture they are positioned.

Marxism and feminism examine film studies separately; these discourses in reality have same need to challenge the power structures in a patriarchal culture. Meanwhile, both of these link to each other on the basis of psychoanalytic notions. Studying the key females of the film with feminism theory is certainly useful to explore the ways in which ideology has though been organised in the ethnical context.


To sum up, Mrs. Gump and Jenny, both females who relate to the protagonist Forrest Gump, have been generally examined with the system of feminist discourse in the article. By going right through the feminism analysis with the representation and sexuality in the film text and ideological implication in conditions of Marxism theory, we can conclude the film, as Comolli and Narboni (2000) point out: "on the main one hand it is a particular product, . . . on the other hand, consequently of being a material product of the machine, it is also an ideological product of the machine".


Comolli, J. and Narboni, P. (2000) "Cinema/ideology/criticism"[1971], in in Hollows, J. , Hutchings, P. and Jancovich, M. (ed. ) The Film Studies Reader. London: Arnold Presser.

Cook, P and Johnston, C. (1990) "The Place of Female in the Theatre of Raoul Walsh"[1974], in Patricia Erens (ed. ) Issues in Feminist Film Criticism, Bloomington: Indiana College or university Press.

Hollows, J. , Hutchings P. and Jancovich, M. (2000), The Film Studies Audience. London: Arnold Publisher. P 230.

Johnston, C. (2000). "Women's Theatre as counter-Cinema" [1973], in E. A. Kaplan (ed. ) Feminism and Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press, P22-23.

McCabe, J. (2004). Feminist Film Studies: Writing the girl into Cinema. London: Wallflower Press. P24.

Mulvey, L. (1989). "Fears, Fantasies and the Guy Unconscious or 'You Don't Know What is Occurring, WILL YOU, Mr. Jones?'" [1973], in Aesthetic and also other Pleasures. Basingstoke: Macmillan. P8.

Mulvey, L. (2000). "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" [1975], in Hollows, J. , Hutchings, P. and Jancovich, M. (ed. ) The Film Studies Reader. London: Arnold Presser.

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