- Student Life
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DOWNEY – Although at first glance “Easy A” looks like a typical high school movie, its clever approach of incorporating the classic 1850s novel “The Scarlet Letter” makes it an interesting teen comedy.
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter” is one of the most-read novels for high school students because of its historical content. The Puritan customs during 17th-century Boston are exposed through the protagonist Hester Prynne, a young woman who wears an embroidered, scarlet-colored “A” on her chest to signify her crime of adultery. Hester is clearly marked by this badge of shame, and the entire village scorns her even though everyone is a sinner in one way or another.
So what does this have to do with a 21st-century teen flick? “Easy A” is the story of Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), who feels invisible until she seizes the perfect opportunity to be the most well-known girl in school. Olive lies about losing her virginity over the weekend, while all she actually did was stay at home and sing along to a musical greeting card from her grandmother.
Rumors about Olive spread like wildfire across the school campus, and she increases her popularity by dressing in scandalous outfits that feature a bold letter “A.” In the end, Olive realizes that the fame and glamour are not worthwhile and regains her good reputation.
Even viewers beyond their high school years can enjoy “Easy A.” Not only does it feature hilarious dialogue, but it also references many time-honored 1980s movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
“I enjoyed the witty banter between the characters, which students these days are afraid to attempt anymore,” said Tina Carlson, an honors English teacher at Downey. “I also appreciated the sarcasm of the adults, especially the school principal and his tirade about public education-perhaps a bit too close to home.”
Olive reflects characteristics of Hester from “The Scarlet Letter” throughout the movie. Just as Hester wore her badge of shame for seven years by her own choice, Olive deliberately chooses to dress in an eye-catching manner. Both women gain an insight about what is truly important in their lives by the end of their respective stories.
“While these movies are often just a very ‘loose’ adaptation of the original, they bring classic literature to the forefront,” said Carlson. “These movies show students that the classics can in fact be timeless in their topics and ideas. If these movies can get even a few more students interested in literature, then they have, to borrow a line from Hawthorne, ‘done their office.’”
Whether it be the entertaining depiction of high school life or the references to classic literature and films, “Easy A” certainly makes the grade among many viewers.
Published: September 30, 2010 – Volume 9 – Issue 24