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Sitty Rhaiza Haneidha T.

Radjac
Ed 121/A6

April 11,2015

In Mona Lisa Smile, the goal of the female students is not just to gain an education, but also the
greater prize of a husband. The 1950s experienced change regarding the roles of women: it was
post-war but pre-feminism and the conflict between tradition and modernity are embodied in the
characters struggles to find their own way in life. The women experience difficulty conforming
to the society they are so familiar with, role conflict and struggle to stay faithful to their
conservative culture.
Being some of the brightest women in the country, the ideal culture at Wellesley College is
conservativeness, academically excelling, abstinence, becoming a wife and soon after, a mother.
But in the real culture of Wellesley, girls are sleeping with teachers and using contraceptives. For
the most part, the women are very intelligent and conservative and they do aim to become a wife
and mother, but there are a few deviants like Giselle, who had a fling with one of the teachers
and startles her roommates by revealing that she has been using birth control. Deviance is not
very common within this formal organization because of what Travis Hirschi calls the control
theory. Because there are such strong bonds between the women at Wellesley, they are less likely
to act out.
The role of a woman was to be a housewife, and having the ascribed status of a woman, this
causes Katherine a lot of conflict. Katherine believes that women should not only be housewives,
but hold a career as well. But the beliefs and values of the women at Wellesley College disagree
with her opinion and instead, the girls choose to stay at home and have a family rather than
getting a job. Joan, an especially bright Wellesley woman, wants to continue her studies at Yale
and become a lawyer. Knowing this, Professor Katherine Watson helps her apply and Joan is
accepted to the university of her dreams. But Joan has a boyfriend and instead, she conforms to
society, marries him and becomes a housewife.
Katherine Watson achieves the status of being a professor of art history at Wellesley College,
something that she had always dreamed of being. In her hidden curriculum, she teaches the
women that they can be more than just a housewife. But unlike Katherines hidden curriculum,
the hidden curriculum at Wellesley College, in general, teaches girls to be proper, have etiquette
and how to make a good future wife and mother. While Katherine Watson takes on the master
status of a professor, the Wellesley women take on the statuses of being students and some of
them take on the status of being a wife. By taking on two statuses, there is often role conflict
because their role performance of being a student clashes with the role of being a housewife. For
example, when Betty gets married, she misses many days of school and gets into trouble with
Katherine. Betty struggles to get her priorities straight and to figure out which status is her
master status.
After much interaction with Katherine Watson, the women at Wellesley College begin to believe
that they can be more than just a wife and a mother, despite the culture that they were raised
with. Katherine made a change at Wellesley and she helped the girls step outside of their social
norms, outside of what they felt comfortable with. Along their journey, the girls experienced role
conflict and they questioned their traditional beliefs and values but they soon adapted to the
social change with the help of their beloved professor, Ms. Watson.