A Modest Proposal and Other Satires

Mildred Pierce as a Tool of Instruction in Postwar America

Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1948) is a dynamic film that attempts to reconstruct a post-war economy by teaching lessons about the importance of gender roles and a balanced family to the men and women in the theaters. Mildred Pierce illuminates “the historical need to reconstruct an economy based on a division of labor by which men command the means of production and women remain within the family, in other words the need to reconstruct a failing patriarchal structure” (Cook, 69). The film also touches on a fear of women by men returning from the war. Women were more independent and less feminine that before the war. “[T]he films themselves seem to indicate just how threatened and unsure hegemonic patriarchy was during the postwar years” (Benshoff, 264). This essay will deal with a scene from Mildred’s first flashback within the film beginning with Mildred fixing up her newly purchased restaurant as Monty enters and flirtatiously invites her to the beach house and ending with Mildred and Monty’s exchanged words of affection pertaining to their beating hearts. This scene overlaps Kay and Veda’s trip to the beach with their father Bert during which Kay comes down with pneumonia. This essay deals with the symptomatic meaning...

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