Breakfast at Tiffany’s


Source:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Directed by Blake Edwards. Performed by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Accessed December 2, 2016.

The film Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released in 1961 and almost immediately became a timeless classic. The main character, Holly Golightly, is a young and somewhat reckless socialite who spends her days in New York going out late, sleeping in, and drinking her worries away. When a new neighbor named Paul Varjak moves in to her apartment building, he and Holly become instant friends. As their connection becomes deeper, Paul realizes that he’s in love with Holly and consequently breaks off his adulterous relationship with a married woman. Though he is initially met with rejection, Holly also realizes that she loves Paul, and the movie ends with the couple kissing in the rain while the audience waits for the credits to roll.

Despite the continuous love story, the most blatant themes don’t necessarily deal with love and romantic relationships. Throughout the film, there are scenes featuring wild parties with ladies and gentlemen alike acting quite promiscuously. There is also the ongoing affair between Paul and his lover, and all the while Paul is occasionally seeing Holly. Thus, a theme from the movie is the sexual freedom of women. At first, this may seem like a liberating shift that it is normal to portray women as sexually free and active. Yet we see in the movie that men feel they are entitled to women’s time and, more importantly, their bodies; there is this notion that a certain amount of good and gentlemanly deeds can be exchanged for sexual pleasure. We saw this concept emerge in the 1920s with the rise of dating; women felt pressured to offer sex as compensation for dates.

Another theme outside of romance is the constant pursuit of money. Holly makes it her personal mission to find a wealthy man to marry, no matter the cost. Indeed, she was about to move to South America to marry a rich Brazilian man in order to sustain her expensive lifestyle. Her desire for money comes from her desire to surround herself with beautiful things. This theme plays into the idea that women should be beautiful and lovely at all times, never bringing up unpleasant topics or displaying any sort of negative feeling. Holly used wealth in order to fulfill this expectation; her money was a means to keep herself and her environment beautiful.


5 thoughts on “Breakfast at Tiffany’s

  1. This is an example of the complicated nature of the sexual revolution. I haven’t seen the movie since I was young, but from the analysis of the film there are perhaps benefits, but also costs to Holly’s choices. Although women are part of the sexual freedom portrayed, it seems that Paul is the one with the most sexual freedom. This seems to reaffirm a cultural acceptance of the male sexual double standard.


  2. I have always loved Audrey Hepburn, but I have never really liked Breakfast at Tiffany’s because of these themes. I never liked that she wasn’t trying to do anything with her life, and she was obsessed with the jewelry at Tiffany’s. It is important for people to recognize that these lifestyles are not what people should aim for in life.


  3. I spent far too long in my life not knowing that this was a movie and not just an overplayed 90s song. Ive never seen the film, but the themes of sexual freedom throughout the film and the fact that the men seem to take advantage of it helped prove that the dominant society will use anything to their advantage.


  4. This made me think of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and why many feminists of the time didn’t support it. They saw it not as liberation for women, but simply as losing the right to say no. When sex becomes normalized and expected for women, it makes women who refuse to have it seem like prudes or kill-joys.


  5. This reminds me of our class discussion on how school is more expensive for women due to hygienic needs as well as social norms. It’s unfortunate that these societal expectations have snowballed into expectations/desire for heightened sexuality.


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