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“Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film

Letter to My Readers

First, I would like to thank you for your attention to my paper. I have chosen Marxist Literary Theory for the analysis of Parasite, a South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho. The theory’s choice is determined by the main theme of the film – social stratification and struggles between social classes in modern Korea. At the same time, Marxist Criticism focuses on social conflict and its application to the interpretation of art. From a personal perspective, the understanding of underlying concepts helps critics make appropriate conclusions in relation to a particular work.

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The essay part that I am proud of is my description of how various symbols represented in the film are applied to the demonstration of social stratification. I have examined the most peculiar symbols and described episodes where their meaning was revealed. At the same time, I am open to my peers’ feedback in relation to this part. In other words, I would be grateful if they added other examples of symbolism. At the same time, I am slightly confused about the paper’s conclusion, and I would like to receive my readers’ clarification in order to make it in proper way. To be precise, I have concerns about whether it should summarize all information provided in the essay or present specific perspectives for the future. In addition, I would like my peers to help me with an appropriate transition from the introduction to the essay’s body.

Parasite

The parasite is a South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho in 2019 that may be defined as a mix of thriller and black comedy. It tells the story of a poor Kim family that lives in modern-day Seoul; it’s head Ki-taek, his wife, and two children are desperately in need of money and jobs. When Ki-taek’s son Ki-woo gets an opportunity to work in a wealthy Park family, the Kims decide to get employment all together there, pretending to be highly qualified specialists and replacing people who work in the Park family through backstabbing and lying (Parasite). However, efforts to keep their secret finally lead to unexpected and dramatic consequences. The film was highly appreciated by people all over the world and won multiple prestigious awards, being nominated for several categories of excellence.

As a matter of fact, Literary Theory, or Critical Theory, may be regarded as a particular set of intellectual assumptions and concepts used for the interpretation and explanation of literary texts and other works of art. Among multiple well-known literary theories, there is Marxist Literary Theory, or Marxist Criticism, that focuses on class distinctions’ reinforcement and class conflict’s representation through literature. In the case of Parasite, this theory has found its reflection in the cinema sector. The film represents the harsh social inequity and struggles that currently exist in urban Korea and attracts particular attention. A huge gap between poor and rich people exists, social status has become immeasurably important, and professionalism is valued less than recommendations.

In addition, in order to emphasize the film’s central theme related to social conflict, the director uses visual codes and applies strong visual symbolism that may be understood semiotically and contextually. At the beginning of the film, the Kim family receives a so-called “scholar stone,” a naturally shaped artifact that is common in Korean, Japanese, and Confucian traditions (Parasite). At the same time, it symbolizes luck and prosperity for its owner. In the film, this stone appears as a symbol of dreams at first when the Kims are able to find a job and later as a weapon for their destruction. Finally, in the end, this stone being returned in nature represents the characters’ surrender to fate and the failure to achieve success in an illegal way.

In the film, social classes and society’s stratification are perfectly shown through stairs. Intensified by the detailed depiction of two different families’ living environments, stairs symbolize the position of people in society and the desire of one group to reach the higher “floor” of another group in life and replace it. The gap between the rich and poor classes is also intensified by the Kims’ living in a semi-basement apartment and the Park’s luxurious house, where stairs may be observed through glass walls as a symbol of the family’s status and success (Parasite). Another episode that shows the social gap refers to a terrible rainstorm – while the Parks get disappointed that they will cancel camping because of the weather, the Kims try to save their almost flooded home.

At the same time, the title Parasite refers not only to the poor Kim family that manages to leech a wealthy family’s money. In the film, the Parks are parasites who exploit cheap labor, being totally dependent on others, as well. Finally, another symbol of social stratification in this story is the smell. In addition, it demonstrates the inability to hide a social class or change it in an illegal way. Thus, regardless of lying and cheating, the smell of Ki-taek every time reveals his identity and leads to tragedy.

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Work Cited

Parasite. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, performance by Song Kang-ho, Barunson E&A, 2019.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, November 17). “Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/parasite-symbols-represented-in-the-film/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, November 17). “Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film. https://studycorgi.com/parasite-symbols-represented-in-the-film/

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StudyCorgi. "“Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/parasite-symbols-represented-in-the-film/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "“Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/parasite-symbols-represented-in-the-film/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) '“Parasite”: Symbols Represented in the Film'. 17 November.

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