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Cameron’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and Plato’s “Symposium”: Comparison Essay

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Updated: Jul 14th, 2021

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a movie directed by John Cameron Mitchell and screened in 2001. The plot follows Hedwig, the main character, through her life journey. The vital question that is a part of this artwork is the notion of love within the context of human relationships. This paper aims to compare Hedwig and the Angry Inch to Plato’s philosophic text Symposium and identify the meaning of love and human nature that is depicted in both works.

Comparison

The movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch depicts the life journey of Hedwig, a transgender from Germany. The character was born as Hansel Schmidt and underwent surgery to be together with the man she loved. The search for love presents one of the bases for the story as Hedwig. The theme is especially important due to the circumstances that surround the character – she is born in East Berlin and becomes a victim of an unsuccessful gender change operation. Nevertheless, her search for someone to love continues, which is a remarkable depiction of inner strength that Hedwig possesses.

Hedwig found a way of expressing herself by creating a rock and roll band with her boyfriend, Tommy. He, however, left her and gained fame by using her lyrics without proper credit. Thus, Hedwig remains an unknown artist while Tommy enjoys the success that was facilitated by Hedwig. Despite this, she does not seize to enjoy her life, while eventually, she realizes that she does not need anyone else to be happy.

The plot of the story is unique, while the character of Hedwig and her life story emphasize the difficulties that people can go through. The unusual nature of the film and the storyline enabled its popularity with several Broadway interpretations. The main character, Hedwig strives to find a person to fall in love with, as she believes that everyone is destined to find a soul mate. This viewpoint is present throughout the film, despite the difficulties and betrayals that she experiences. The aspect presents a remarkable understanding of the inner beliefs that the character has.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is connected to Plato’s work because one of the songs from this movie titled The Origins of Love was based on the philosopher’s text. More specifically, the ideas from Aristophanes’ speech are used in the text. This aspect provides a clear understanding of the connection between the two works and the central idea of them. In the speech, a myth about ancient people is told. According to it, two people used to be connected to each other and had two faces. The original text describes the phenomenon in this manner “the sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was a man, woman, and the union of the two” (Plato 10). Plato’s work mentions androgynes when describing this event, which can be linked to the depiction of Hedwig in the movie.

Thus, a connection exists between creatures described by Plato and Hedwig. It is because her operation left her in between two genders, similarly two the two-headed creations that Plato depicts in the Symposium. In the film, the main character underwent a sex change operation that was unsuccessful. Both in Plato’s work and in the movie in question, one can witness the importance of love. Through these pieces, one can understand that everyone deserves to find a soul mate.

In general, Plato’s work titled Symposium provides a story of a philosopher, playwright, and a politician who present their view on love in their speeches. The activity is aimed at praising the god Eros, responsible for love affairs. Thus, the primary connection between Symposium and Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the exploration of the topic of love, its origins, and meaning for people. Thus, while Hedwig and the Angry Inch presents a modern story, it has many similarities to Plato’s Symposium.

Plato centered his text around the meaning of love and the desire of people to find the person that can complete them, similarly to the quest that was presented by Aristophanes. In her reflections, Hedwig mentions the need to discover her other half. The questions that she asks herself revolve around the nature of this love; thus the character reflects whether she should look for a man or women, and should this person compliment her or be the opposite. Hedwig reflects on the idea of two people becoming one, which creates a clear connection to Plato’s work.

Meaningful Aspects

The most valuable component of the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the theme of searching for love that is present throughout the plot. The similar idea is depicted in Plato’s text, though the myth that is told by the philosopher. However, the ending of Mitchell’s film presents a different perspective of the matter as at the end Hedwig realizes that she needs to find love for herself. In that way, she would be complete, without a need to find someone.

The two texts can be used to understand each other because as was previously mentioned, it is evident that Plato’s philosophic views inspired the creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This can be seen not only in the song The Origins of Love but throughout the movie. Another important aspect is the depiction of creatures in the myth, as some of them consisted of two females and other of two males. This provides a better understanding of Hedwig’s’ operation that she performed to be with her first husband.

Both Hedwig and Plato emphasize that humans were created to find their second half. However, the story of Hedwig and the Angry Inch provides a different perspective by introducing an idea of not having to look for another person. The search for love is described by Plato in the following manner – “each of us when separated, having one side only … and he is always looking for his other half” (11). Hedwig completes the journey by discovering her inner strengths and ability to love herself. Apart from Aristophanes view, Plato describes other perspectives of relationships. Thus, it can be argued that the movie complements that idea by promoting a different opinion on the subject.

Conclusion

Overall, both works share many similarities when describing love and relationships between people. The movie and the philosophical text supplement each other because to fully understand the meaning of Hedwig’s journey one should examine Plato’s myth about the separation of humans. The pieces provide an understanding of a need to find love as the central idea for human’s existence, which is reflected through Hedwig’s journey and Aristophanes’ story. Hedwig and the Angry Inch provides an understanding that people do not need to search for love from others; instead, they should find it within themselves. This compliments the multiple views on the matter that Plato highlighted in his philosophic text.

Works Cited

Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. New Line Cinema, 2001.

Plato. Plato’s Symposium. (S. Benardete, Trans.). University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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"Cameron's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Plato’s "Symposium": Comparison." IvyPanda, 14 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/camerons-hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-and-platos-symposium-comparison/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cameron's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Plato’s "Symposium": Comparison." July 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/camerons-hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-and-platos-symposium-comparison/.


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IvyPanda. "Cameron's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Plato’s "Symposium": Comparison." July 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/camerons-hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-and-platos-symposium-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cameron's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Plato’s "Symposium": Comparison." July 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/camerons-hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-and-platos-symposium-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cameron's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Plato’s "Symposium": Comparison'. 14 July.

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