Scene review: the movieGoodfellas

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One could say that the women characters in Goodfellas are symptoms of the world they inhabit. In what ways do the women in this scene, what they look like and how they act, represent this world?

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The role of the women in the film is fairly complex. This scene with the party between all the wives shows them gossip excitedly about the violence committed by their family, friends, and against their children. They talk about all these things in a very casual tone as if they are just sitting around discussing beauty tips with one another. They are portrayed as crude, worn down, and angry. When Karen first sees this she is shocked, and seems completely oblivious to the fact that this is how they cope to be able to stay sane. Such as when one wife says, “keep your fucking hands off me or I’ll cut them off.” By this quote you can tell just how affected the wives get by the gangster lifestyle they are living in, they start joking and talking like their husbands in order to feel that it is normal.


This is how the wives live and Karen doesn’t seem to think that she’ll ever get dragged into that world, which is why as a viewer you can’t help but feel sympathetic and sad when she does. Karen is first introduced as a very naiveand gentle character, then she gets seduced into the rich and gangster lifestyle. From the beginning,she senses that something is not right, but she continues to make excuses to herself. Karen said the following memorable quote from the film;“after all it got to be normal, none of it seemed like crime, it was more like Henry was enterprising, and he and the guys were making a few bucks hustling.Our husbands weren’t brain surgeons, they were blue collar guys, the only way they could make extra money, real money, was to go out and cut a few corners.” Karen saying this showsthat she is trying to reason with herself in regards to the things Henry is doing to make it seem okay. However, Henry’s influence begins to change her, as his cheating drives her crazy to the point of her holding a gun to his head, and his dealing drugs leads them both into a world of addiction. Henry isn’t necessarily undermining Karen by cheating on her, but is living up to the stereotypes of a gangster, and Karen as a result becomes a victim of the gangster lifestyle that her husband leads.


The women in the film are there to support their husbands, keep their houses clean, raise the children, and cover up for their men’s crimes. The wives seem to be fine with this lifestyle and are very submissive when it comes to their husbands. Karen is the only one who isn’t okay with it, which is probably because she comes from a different background than the rest of the women. Therefore, she expects different treatment from her husband, whereas the other wives seem to be in an understanding that this comes with the territory. The men definitely have the power in the film, the women are only shown respect by other people when they’re with their husbands and they still aren’t treated equally. The women are never included in their conversations and business, but they are allowed to listen. Overall, the women in the film are being used by the men as a necessity to keep things orderly and normal, but just as the men are using the women, the women know what they are getting into and are fine with it as long as they live a luxurious lifestyle. After all, they are powerless as they don’t have money of their own or a job.


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