Holly Golightly, a character created by the infamous Truman Capote and turned into a motion picture icon, forever immortalized on the silver screen by Audrey Hepburn. In a different post, I briefly described the closing scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in relation to the Ten Stage Model of Relationships (Gamble, 2003). Here, I will further analyze Hepburn’s character as portrayed in the movie.
Golightly is a Manhattan party girl who gets $50 for every visit to the powder room when in the company of a gentleman and always wears a little black dress on her excursions. Overall, she makes decisions on a moment-to-moment basis, always ready for what comes next as she makes money partying with gentlemen and visiting the prison, Sing Sing. She is always on the go and is a little unstable. Golightly lives with a cat that she refuses to name because it’s too wild and free, even though he really isn’t.
Overall, Golightly could be considered one of two things: confusing in the terms of traditional gender stereotypes or modern in the terms of traditional gender stereotypes. She is confusing in the sense that she doesn’t really adhere to any of the traditional stereotypes, except maybe for being beautiful and needing to retain the beauty for party and social reasons (even then, she doesn’t make a fuss about it). This could be confusing, or fresh depending on how you look at it, if you’ve only seen one gender role for women all your live (which is possible, given the time period it came out in). She could be considered modern because she doesn’t adhere to those traditional stereotypes, as well. However, Golightly’s balance between stability and her never ending quest to be as free as she wants could be negative because of that instability. It’s also important to note the ending, where she gets together with Paul–which violates her wishes from throughout the movie to be free and “un-caged”. Essentially, I’ve just realized that Breakfast at Tiffany’s adheres to DeFransisco’s statements about how media can “resecure” traditional gender norms, even if it seems that they are being broken. The gender norm of being a woman who is unstable and too free is cut down as soon as she and Paul get together at the end of the movie because that’s precisely what he adds to the picture. The movie defies the stereotype of a typical woman then resecures that fact that women want and should be in stable relationships–after all, you want Paul and Holly to get together during the whole movie!
DeFrancisco, V., Palczewski, C. (2007). Communicating gender diversity: a critical approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Jurow, M., Shepard, R., & Edwards, B. (1961). Breakfast at Tiffany’s. USA: Paramount Pictures.