Analyse how language features were used to show the negative and/or positive sides of one or more characters

In the film “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard symbolism was used to show the reader more about the character John Nash played by Russel Crowe. Nash had created 3 delusional characters, each a projection of certain aspects of himself. In creating these delusional characters, he was able to fulfill his social, intellectual and paternal needs. The delusional character Charles shows the positive sociable side of John, which is mostly unseen by other characters. The other delusional character William Parcher shows a negative side of John, being the paranoid, doubtful qualities which drive his schizophrenia. Lastly, the delusional character Marcee shows the viewer the paternal, empathetic side of Johns personality which was what enabled him to live a normal life post schizophrenia.

John is struggling socially at the university; He is struggling to balance his time between creating an original maths idea and making friends. The delusional character Charles Herman helps John by encouraging his sociable side of his personality which shows the viewer and other characters in the film a positive more extroverted side of Johns personality. Charles Herman is introduced in the film as Johns roommate during his stay at Princeton University. He comes across as a light hearted, friendly character who is much more sociable than John. When Charles enters Johns dorm, a close-up shot show John watching other students walk past outside, men and women holding hands, chatting amongst themselves, instantly we hear a cough and a point of view shot from John pans around to introduce the solution to Johns predicament.  By creating Charles he can justify sending his time not working on his thesis, letting himself forget about that for short periods of time and giving him time to relax. Charles shows a positive side of John, who is able to balance the aspects of his life, work, and friendship. This makes him seem like a more sociable person than he was before meeting Charles, which lets him get out of his dorm more and see the world. This, in the end, was what he needed to create his original idea which was forcing him to introvert himself so much, as it was in the bar with his work colleagues when he realized what it was that he could get his name know by and put him in front of his colleagues, all because of the social confidence and push he received from the Charles. “Is my roommate a dick?” Charles says during their first introduction, as John is questioning his likeability and sociability.  John is asking himself, should he do something different to be accepted? And by creating Charles, he could practice his social interactions giving him the confidence to socialize using his social techniques with his work colleagues.Charles enables John to behave better socially which shows John colleagues to the socially acceptable, positive behaviors of Johns life, strengthening their relationships. Charles shows how John is struggling at the university, he finds it hard to interact with his colleagues and represents how John is incapable to socially interact and has to create a friend for him to feel fulfilled socially. Ron Howard used the Character Charles Herman as a symbol which showed the viewer how Nash is struggling to interact with others, but by creating an imaginary friend he is encouraged to get out there socially, which calms him and slows his journey into schizophrenia’s damaging behaviors.

The delusional character William Parhcer appears in the film when John begins to get bored in his work and provides him with an academic purpose. Like Charles, William fulfills an aspect of Johns life he is lacking in. At first, this benefits John because he is able to focus his energy on something, but over time William begins to detach Johns perspective from his reality. William first appears when John is visiting the Pentagon and is asked to break Russian military codes. This is the first hint is intellectual stimulation John receives since getting his Job at Wheeler labs. “The Russians have the H bomb, the Nazis repatriating South America, the Chinese have a standard army of 2.8 million, and I am doing stress tests on a damn.”. John is getting bored, and he creates William while at the Pentagon as a way to give himself a project, a job which makes him feel important and stimulates him, with a hint of danger. But this danger grows, and William leads John down a path which effects increase the control of schizophrenia and damages his relationship with his Alicia. The car chase scene, which is entirely a delusion in Johns mind, shows how Johns delusional work is causing his schizophrenia to take control of his life. The Car Chase scene consists of Johns imagination creating an incredibly detailed car ride where William Parcher is telling John they are being followed by Russian spies. Gun shots are heard and an extreme close-up shot shows the bullet hole through the back window. William Parcher causes Johns disease to root itself in his reality and feeds his delusions, which detached John even more from his real-life. William exposed the paranoid side of Johns disease, by making him search for Russian codes in newspapers and magazines. This sparks questioning in John, a common symptom of schizophrenia, making him think about his decision to get married because it compromised his delusional decoding work set by William Parcher. “She’ll compromise us again, you’ll go back to the hospital, countless people will die. I can’t let that happen.” William says to John, referring to Alicia. William feeds Johns disease and habits such as paranoia, and distrust of his wife Alicia begin to root themselves in his personality, showing the viewer the negative side of John as he falls down the path of isolation his disease created for him. From this, we learn how much of a struggle John has to go through with his disease, he needs to stop believing in his delusions but he doesn’t want to yet, as they provide social and work benefits giving him a purpose. The delusions have become an addiction to John, and he must first accept their presence and effect on his life and other lives around him if he wants to be able to live a normal life post schizophrenia, a technique used by almost all addiction sufferers in their fight to get their life back.

The delusional character Marcee is the adopted niece of Charles Herman. She turns up in the film while John is starting to think seriously about marriage and children with Alicia, and John creates her as a dummy, to practice interacting with a child to see if he could be a fit father. “You talk funny Mr. Nash… My Uncle says you’re very smart but not very nice so I shouldn’t pay no mind if your mean to me.” Marcee says when she first approaches John. She tells him it’s alright if he is mean to her, accepting him for his social inabilities. During the scene that Marcee is introduced, John has just previously and his first kiss with Alicia, “Should I marry her?” John asks Charles during this scene. John is thinking seriously about his relationship with Alicia, and Marcee is there for John to see how he can interact with children.She represents the paternal need of John and is incredibly helpful for John and his condition. Marcee extracts Johns empathetic side and is always there to comfort John, especially as his disease begins to affect his work and personal life. During the scene when John guest lectures at Harvard, Marcee and Charles are there before hand to comfort him. A point of view shot (from John’s perspective) shows Marcee running towards him and embrace him, and a close-up shot shows John scared looking face as he tells Charles “I’ve got myself in some kind of trouble,”(I couldn’t remember this quote or find the scene) referring to the Russian spies he believed were chasing him. John is battling between having to protect his delusions and having to protect his family, now that Alicia, his wife, is pregnant. It’s this comfort and loyalty that helps John fight his disease, and rid the paranoia and isolation that schizophrenia causes for John and helps him make his perspective more alike the reality his lives in. Marcee represents Johns paternal needs and is able to help him convince himself that he is able to be a good father, showing the viewer a positive aspect of Johns personality, being his empathetic, paternal side.

The delusional characters Charles, William, and Marcee and all creations of Johns mind, and each of them are projections of certain qualities of John himself. Charles and Marcee provided emotional support for John as he suffered from schizophrenia, while Williams actions and creation of dangers for John caused symptoms of paranoia. Charles friendship and emotional support showed a positive, sociable side of Johns personality. William provided work pressures and doubt into Johns life, which brought out a paranoid side of John, which is a common symptom of schizophrenia, and lastly, Marcee helped John get in touch with his paternal, empathetic side showing the viewer that John can care, a positive quality of John. John does become addicted to these characters, as they are an easy source of friendship, intellectual stimulation without the trouble of social interactions. His addiction becomes worse as the film goes on, until Marcee provides proof to John that they are not real, “Marcee cannot be real, she never gets old” John say, and from this point of realization John continues down the path recovery until by the help of support from both his reality, Alicia, and his delusions, Marcee, he is able to live a normal life post schizophrenia.

Respond now!

Latest Posts By Hannah


A Beautiful Mind