I wrote this earlier in the year.
I am a hedonist. I believe in pursing whatever makes me happy. It is a selfish endeavor, I will concede, but it is exclusively my own because no one else wakes up every morning and thinks about ways to make my life better. It is part of my process of self-realization, and sure, I act outlandishly from time to time. Holly Golightly is not so different from me: we are “top bananas in the shock department” (Capote, 61), and we are free. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novel about fulfillment and freedom, assimilation and aberrations. The film adaptation of Capote’s story defiles the very essence of Holly and her cause: freedom. It panders to the audience, and offers them the happy ending and closure they yearn by marrying her to the narrator, or rather, “Paul,” who may or may not be gay. But Holly was never supposed to be incarcerated in a cage because she is a wandering spirit; therefore, Capote’s original and intended “conclusion” is best, though not because it provides closure (because it does not), but because it leaves the audience where Holly has grown, but remains careless enough to do what she does best: live; where she is not assimilated to the realm of commitment that our chauvinistic society so religiously extolls.
Holly was always a vagrant. The daughter of misfortune and unbridled resilience, she was left to fend for herself and her brother Fred. They incurred upon the Golightly family, a family of loving and nurturing people. At the young age of thirteen, Holly took on the role of Mom with the Golightly “churren,” and the role of wife with Doc Golightly, a man who loved her unconditionally. Seeing her parents die and taking on the role of an adult as hardly an adolescent herself, Holly is introduced to the cruelty of the world- reality, but this only serves to fortify her. Like blood that coagulates, Holly receives her life on a day by day basis, hurting and living, and creating new skin- more resilient with each passing person, with each passing sorrow. The moment Holly decides to leave the Golightlys is not entirely definitive, as her wanderlust developed gradually, “looking at pictures. Reading dreams” (Capote 69). When she did eventually leave, she hurt many people: Doc, her “churren,” and her adored companion Fred. She, however, left without regrets, as any good hedonist would.
The pursuit of happiness is the most personal goal we as humans can have. Many people view hedonism as separate from the pursuit of happiness, but the dichotomy is not so clear cut. Hedonism is the principle of seeking pleasure of any kind, whether spiritual or carnal, to make life worth living. Similarly, the pursuit of happiness follows the same idea, but it carries a more positive connotation because it does not use a risqué term. Regrettably, its very implication very often suggests following materialistic goals, even worse, these objectives are more accepted by society than say, the quest for self-fulfillment in the form of enjoyment, in the form of carnal pleasure. The hedonist, as professor of philosophy Roger Crisp states, attempts to “undermine the evidential weight of many of our natural beliefs about what is good for people.” Holly lives as a hedonist because her life revolves primarily around herself. She is at first regarded as an egoist with less depth than bath tub, but I would argue that she was more human than most of us. Leaving her family, particularly Fred could not have been the product of a cursory idea, as she was always looking after him, so it is clear that her departure was contemplated and important; she realized it was a path she had to take to live her life to the fullest, and I cannot judge her for wanting to exist.
Moving to New York was the capricious relocation of Capote’s bon viveur. Holly frees herself from the responsibility of family and attending to social duties, shows off her hedonistic qualities. New York, the home of dreams and dreamers, freedom and fulfillment, elation and expression makes of Holly a metropolitan goddess. She lives with a nameless cat and scant furniture, a testament to her belief that she does not belong to anyone, and that no one belongs to her. Her days are booked with dinners and parties with rich men of whom she takes advantage. A bad habit? Not really. She rules men with her charisma and her face, and they allow her to have her way and their money. She rules all of them with the slight exception of her neighbors: the narrator and Yunioshi. The narrator strikes the reader as an affable man, a typical man. He is preferred over the antagonistic Yunioshi who at every opportunity tries to sabotage Holly. Throughout the novel, Yunioshi is overtly against everything Holly stands for: freedom and pleasure, while the narrator gives off the sense that he admires her uninhibited character. In the movie, Yunioshi remains the same while the narrator is skewed into a manlier, more aggressive alpha- the first of many vile discrepancies in the list of offenses towards the book. At the end of the movie, he confronts Holly with an oppressive soliloquy in which he desperately -though indirectly- begs her to stay. She had plans to leave and to have many affairs with many rich men, her ultimate goal being to find a place where she belonged and perhaps even someone to whom to belong: an exciting endeavor I must say. But “Paul” would not let her go; “I won’t let you do this,” because “[he] loves [her], and [she] belongs to [him]” (Edwards, 1961). So Holly stays.
The male chauvinism seeps from the film onto the audience in this final scene. Holly, the enlightened, liberated, and winged soul, who in the book leaves behind all who loved her once again, is hitched with Paul. Paul, the more-than-likely gay character in the book- …she stays with him in the movie. Not only is this wrong in terms of sexual designation, but it is wrong in terms of fundamental principles. The movie flagrantly defiles the very essence of Holly Golighty, her very name. She no longer lives in an eternal state of holidays, days of merriment, nor does she lightly go everywhere she does. After the closing scene, we are to assume Holly and Paul marry. She is to live days of marriage not merriment, and to lightly go with a baby in her womb would be inconsistent with nature. America cannot accept a woman free of responsibility. Historically, women are only keepers of the house and bearers of children. A woman who is not, is an anomaly, or worse a hedonist, a lustful pleasure lover. Both options are never really an option. This is why Holly stays with Paul. The book ends inconclusively because Holly is unpredictable and because she can choose her fate. The book was written by homosexual man who dealt with social disapproval his entire life. He understood what it was like to be different, and he bestowed his vision onto Holly. The movie was created by a heterosexual man who saw in Capote’s book a woman and her lack of inhibition, so naturally he righted the wrong and made her committed to a man in the end… after she had seen how wrong she was about everything, including her life.
Sexism is everywhere. Women cannot make their own decisions and cannot live their lives without a man to which correspond, according to the movie. So as not to be regarded as a common whore who seeks only lascivious satisfaction with many men, women are supposed to commit to a single male, preferably in the form of marriage. Any man can say that he has had many sexual partners and have his life be generally accepted by society, but for a woman to concede the same feats would be sacrilegious. Whether the directors of the movie married Holly to be kind and preserve her image as America’s sweetheart or to act upon their misogynistic impulses, we may never know, but what we can confirm is that the movie was essentially a defamation to Holly and women all around the world.
Please refer to http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hedonism/ for more information on hedonism and Roger Crisp.