The focus of this essay is the film entitled Brooklyn, which was by right nominated for the Academy Awards in 2015. It reveals the topic of the immigration of Irish people to the USA in the 1950s. The film depicts the living conditions and beliefs of both the Irish and the American societies. The central protagonist of the story is a girl named Eilis. She represents a generation of youngsters who were immigrating in the USA at that time period in search of better life. This paper analyzes the image of Eilis in Brooklyn and demonstrates how her inner strength and ability to overcome obstacles turned her from a modest Irish immigrant into a confident American lady who succeeded in establishing her life in the USA with a beloved man and in building career.
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), who is approximately 21-23 years old, changes her status quo from a frightened Irish immigrant to a successful girl, who is ready to face challenges, because she sees that a new world, opened in front of her, will not accept her in her old role. The girl was born in Ireland and lives there together with her mother and her sister. At the beginning of the story, Eilis maintains her status quo of a simple and a modest girl, who is humiliated by her employer at the shop. The heroine has close family ties and her sister and mother deeply love her. However, the girl feels that she can possibly have a more promising future, thus, in the light of the contemporary tendency to immigrate to the USA, she decides to move to the country of bright possibilities. “This is a world of red shoes, yellow dresses, maroon and blue cars, a stark contrast to the sternly jacketed women and oily-haired blazer boys.” Living in Ireland, Eilis just had a general idea of this contrast but could not imagine its revelation in real life.
Eilis’ primary expenses in the USA are already paid, but the girl does not look confident at all and has some deep inner hesitations about her decision. Eilis’ position is even better than the situation of some other immigrants, who have to start their life in the country from the very beginning. She already has a paid place to live in a boarding house there and the job of a salesgirl. The main protagonist is also offered a place at college. In spite of this, viewers of the film see that Eilis doubts her decision and attends college almost unwillingly, not being sure that her life will improve far away from home.
When Eilis arrives in America, a radical change of environment and circumstances of her life does not immediately reveal her behavior and character. She is shy to communicate with other girls from the boarding house and this plot line introduces some humoristic elements in Brooklyn: “There’s a fair amount of humor in the film as well, mostly thanks to the interplay between the young women at the boarding house and their stern, but well-meaning caretaker, played to perfection by Julie Walters.” When at work, Eilis does not behave towards the customers as she is asked by the administrator. The girl was not very amiable and convivial as she cannot hide her nostalgic mood.
Later Eilis’ status quo starts to undergo some changes, when she meets her beloved boyfriend Tony played by Emory Cohen. Owing to this romantic relationship, the entire potential of an Irish girl begins to manifest itself. Eilis does not completely trust him at first, but as Tony treats her with respect and sincerity, her heart starts melting day by day. The girl smiles more and is open to communication now. A fundamental shift in her position from a timid immigrant to a young lady who gradually becomes an American citizen is obvious. She willingly accepts some pieces of advice from her friends regarding the way she should look, plan a vacation and behave during the meeting with Tony’s family. At this stage Eilis is ready to change in order to both live normally in the USA and to develop relationships with her partner.
Definitely, there were some obstacles, which Eilis faced and almost managed to overcome, yet a sad event at home interfered with the process. She does not know much about fashion in the USA and the way women dress. At first it was difficult for her to find some common topics with the girls. However, the major obstacles are deeply lurking in her soul. She feels that she is a stranger in the American society and she misses her home. “At the same time that the film celebrates the brashness and optimism of American life as encountered by the immigrants, it is also alert to the homesickness they feel for the country they have left behind.” Eilis’ boyfriend supports her in everything, but when a person lives far away from home, he or she would certainly feel under pressure even being supported. The very moment when Eilis hears about her sister’s death, she wants to return home immediately and visit her mother. The main protagonist feels guilty of the fact that her mother stays alone suffering in Ireland, while her own life is constantly improving.
Eilis’ way shown in the movie is definitely a pursuit of a certain goal, which is complicated by her inner conflict. She wants to adapt to the life in America and her new love contributes to this process. However, the enumerated obstacles exacerbated the problem of internal struggle in the soul of the personage. She behaves in a friendly way towards others and appreciates the support of the priest and the girls with whom she lives. Nonetheless, a feeling that she is different never leaves her. “In Ireland, Eilis is a daughter with a history; in America she is a woman with a future; in both she is filled with displaced longing.” Her boyfriend helps her mitigate the consequences of this inner conflict, but all careful observers understand that being a representative of a national minority is a heavy burden to carry.
The general impression is that Eilis is successful in the USA, but her trip to Ireland demonstrates that the girl is not as confident and certain about her decision to immigrate as it may seem. This person is diligent and academically bright at college, because she knows that she wants to be an accountant in the same manner as her sister. Eilis builds a relationship with an Italian man and charms him with her openness and candor. Shortly after, the girl succeeds in her work. She desperately wants to visit her family and nobody expects her to lose connection with Ireland while comfortably living on another continent. Nevertheless, the unexpected death of her sister and arrival home transforms Eilis. She shares grief with her mother and gradually returns to her Irish friends and usual activities which she previously did, when she lived in Ireland. Eilis visits her favorite places, and people in her native town offer her to stay at home.
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The image of a successful American immigrant is yet broken when Eilis returns to Ireland. The spectators see that the heroine does not answer to the letters of her love and even hides the fact that they have already married. She almost starts dating another man whom her mother calls “a promising one.” Eilis is totally confused at the moment: it is difficult to imagine that such a sincere girl who really loved her Italian boyfriend forgot about him, when she returned to her motherland. This is the second change of her status quo. It is not possible to claim that she has just returned to her old status of a reserved Irish girl. She is partly American now and she wants to enjoy her life and thinks much about which choices to make. Obviously, it is possible to blame her for her doubts as she was on the verge of betrayal. Notwithstanding all difficulties, she has just started to feel American and a tragic event returns her to her earlier life, which she still remembers very well.
A small episode in Ireland quickly reminds Eilis that her new life already has a powerful influence on her. Nobody could think that her former employer, an old and unamiable lady, can meet Eilis and imply that she possesses some information about Eilis’ marriage in the USA and may reveal it to her family and friends. The entire story resembles an attempt of blackmailing, but for Eilis it was a turning point in her life. She returns home, tells the truth to her mother who supports her as she is a really caring parent, packs her things and returns to the USA to her husband. Now she feels confident and happy.
The ultimate change of Eilis’ character was formidable. Brooklyn is a film with a complicated and a gripping plot. The situation could be easier if Eilis came to the USA, started settling her life there, became unsuccessful and then just returned to Ireland forever. The producer of the film wanted to show the depth of the inner conflict and managed to demonstrate it successfully. There is a chain of changes in the statuses quo represented by the main protagonist: a fearful Irish girl working in the shop – an Irish immigrant in the USA who lacks confidence – a young lady who is in love with her Italian boyfriend and ready to change to adapt to the American lifestyle – Eilis who is already half American and half Irish and compares the strength of her family network with pleasures of her new life in the USA – a successful Irish immigrant in the USA who has found her true love and will definitely become an outstanding skillful accountant.
In conclusion, it is important to note that, in the modern globalized world, the issue of immigration and adaptation of foreigners to the new living conditions will always be a subject of a heated debate. This problem is complicated by the fact that all people are different and many of them return to their native countries, if cannot find a better life abroad. Brooklyn can be recommended to all young ladies who want to move to some other countries forever. The film depicts some of the most common potential problems, which a young immigrant may face, and helps to find the answers to the most dubious questions.