Carla and Bethany are the main characters in the play ‘Beauty’ by Jane Martin. Both characters can be regarded as the protagonists in the play. Carla and Bethany share some common traits, most of which are apparent among young American women. For instance, Bethany is a very fun-, loving young woman, ready to say or do anything to fulfill her whims. Bethany explains to Carla that she had to lie at her place of work about her dying uncle for her to go to the beach (Kirszner and Mandell 541).
In this essay, the author will critically analyze self-image with regards to the two characters. In “Beauty,” Carla and Bethany are struggling with their individual self-image, especially in relation to their physical appearances.
Beauty and Self-Image: Critique
Carla is boasting of three modeling job proposals for the night. However, she intends to meet a date in the process (Kirszner and Mandell 541). Here, Carla and Bethany exhibit the characteristics of an independent and free modern young woman. Martin brings out the traits of the two through dialogue and actions. Actually, the play revolves around the dialogue between the two. For instance, Bethany’s fun-loving attitude is made apparent when she tells Carla how she lied at her place of work to be given a day off.
Martin may have developed the theme of self-image in the two characters to reflect her experiences and those of her closest friends. Her background is a secret to many. However, her identity as a Kentucky-based modern woman strengthens the notion of developing two characters to mirror her life. In spite of their struggles with self-identity, Carla and Bethany seem to maintain a very close friendship. The friendship element in the drama may be borrowed from Martin’s real-life experiences, most probably as a young woman in America.
Martin portrays the characters as all-rounded, but uncomplicated, young individuals. For instance, both women are professionals in their respective fields. Bethany is a public accountant (Kirszner and Mandell 543), while Carla is a model. The dialogue between the two characters reveals a lot about their nature.
In spite of their character strengths, both Carla and Bethany are struggling with internal urges, which are hard to discern without their disclosure. Bethany tells Carla, “I want to be like you” (Kirszner and Mandell, p. 542). The proclamation is an indication of the fact that she is not comfortable or content with herself. After requesting two magical wishes from a genie, Bethany feels that she needs to beautiful like Carla. The ensuing argument is an illustration of varying points of view in relation to the concept of beauty and self-image.
According to many individuals, beauty is defined on the basis of good looks and physical appeal. It appears that Bethany holds this notion of beauty. She exhibits a strong urge to achieve this form of physical appeal. The desire is made apparent when she tells Carla that “I want to be beautiful” (Kirszner and Mandell p. 542). On her part, Carla feels that Bethany is beautiful and pretty. However, the latter is not satisfied with her appearance.
Most young women struggle with their physical appearances. The struggle is apparent in the sale of cosmetic and beauty products. Most of these products are consumed by young women. Such consumers are pursuing beauty in life. Young women are struggling to modify their physical images in the name of beauty.
Like Bethany, a large number of young women define beauty based on the comments made by their friends. They also regard physical appeal from the perspective of the appearance of other women, especially those who are famous. For instance, in spite of being regarded as beautiful by her friend, Bethany still finds flaws in her appearances. Carla tells Bethany, “you are beautiful” (Kirszner and Mandell p. 543), but this appears not to be enough.
On her part, Carla feels that Bethany has the charm and the personality that she herself lacks (Kirszner and Mandell 543). In most cases, the majority of the young women who envy the beauty of their peers are only blinded by one aspect of their existence, which is their physical appearance. In addition, the women crave for the kind of life led by their ‘beautiful’ peers. In actual sense, they disregard the viewpoints of their role models. For instance, Bethany wishes to be like Carla. She is attracted to her friend’s physical beauty (Kirszner and Mandell, 543). Carla, on the other hand, envies Bethany, especially with regards to her intellect (Kirszner and Mandell 543).
Bethany is physically attractive and pretty. However, she still feels that beauty will make her life more satisfying (Kirszner and Mandell, 543). On the contrary, Carla has experienced what others consider to be beautiful. She dislikes the pressure associated with these ‘good looks.’ For instance, she tells Bethany that being beautiful “is not a picnic” (Kirszner and Mandell p. 543). She feels that beautiful women are treated as mere objects to be adored.
The two characters manifest a major flaw, which is tragic to both of them. The last wish granted by the magical genie interchanges their personalities and physical attributes. Carla becomes Bethany, whereas the latter becomes the former (Kirszner and Mandell 543). The girls realize the mistake they have made too late. None of them wants to be the other in spite of the envious comments.
Martin uses Carla and Bethany to communicate to the reader, especially to those women who covet beauty. Beauty should not be defined solely from the viewpoints of others. Everyone is beautiful. The truth is that different people exhibit varying forms of beauty. Carla and Bethany learn this the hard way.
Kirszner, L., and Stephen M. LIT. 1st ed. 2011. New York: Cengage Learning. Print.