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Social Sciences
English (U.S.)
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A Subject Of Discussion Assignment: Social Behavior (Essay Sample)


This essay explores the social behaviour of a certain community when a stranger with deformed hands is introduced in the neighbourhood. This paper explores how the presence of Edward Scissorhands in the Boggs' household impacts the social behaviour of their family and the neighbourhood who judge him harshly.

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Social Behavior
Edward Scissorhands’s physiognomy in the film reveals of the suburban residents’ characters the moment he arrives with Peg Boggs saves him from the abandoned and decrepit gothic mansion. He, (Edward played by Johnny Depp) becomes a subject of discussion among the lousy neighbors as he blends with the Boggs’ family in the transformative journey and integration in the human society. The social behavior and personality of the Boggs’ family members and most of the community around manifest through Edward’s presence. Initially, everyone seems perplexed by Edward’s ability to use his scissor-hands to perform ordinary tasks with perfection, and they are awestruck. Edward, an artificial humanoid whose creator died before giving him the perfect hands, quickly learns to interact and adopt human behavior and eventually falls in love with Kim Boggs (played by Winona Ryder). As the plot unfolds, Tim Burton makes each of the main character’s move unpredictable such that the audience is kept guessing. However, of crucial importance is Burton’s ability to bring out the important human social aspect of the supporting cast through their interaction with Edward Scissorhands.
When she arrives at home from camping, Kim is portrayed as an outgoing, popular, stubborn, narcissistic, and arrogant teenager who does everything to annoy her father. Her arrogance and narcissism are shown during the first encounters with Edwards in her bedroom and during family gathering. Burton portrays her as a teenage daughter who is continuously disturbed by Edward’s hands and try every way to shun him. However, the outgoing and popular Kim gradually transforms and starts being compassionate towards Edwards. Weiten (516) describes this behavioral transformation as cognitive dissonance. According to Weiten (518), cognitive dissonance is a social behavior whereby an individual shows remarkable levels of inconsistency in their attitudes towards people or objects. This psychological term describes Kim’s transitions from collectivism to individualism. Kim is portrayed as a person who prefers to spend more time with her friends and happens to be a cheerleader in school. At first, her caring nature is not revealed when she first meets Edward. However, as soon as the two get acquainted, Kim’s friendliness caring nature emerges as she abandons external attributions. Weiten (519) defines external attributions as a kind of social behavior that arises in response to the environmental constraints. Moreover, she later reciprocates Edward’s feelings for her at the end by admitting that she loves him. Kim’s initial attitude towards Edward can be understood because she had grown up accustomed to the social behavior of the suburban community. Kim was accustomed to the norm, and physical appearances matter a lot in the community. Therefore, she can be forgiven for being mean towards Edward during her first encounter because had deeply engrained and preconceived opinions about him based on his outward appearance based on the society standards.
On the other hand, Jim (played by Anthony Michael Hall) Kim’s boyfriend, is portrayed as thuggish jock and a bully. Edward’s presence helps to reinforce Jim’s character as a mean, arrogant, and a neurotic who compensates for his insecurities by taking advantage of the weak. Weiten (517) describes a situation whereby an individual has a tendency to blame others for their misfortunes as defensive attribution. Jim is an epitome of this negative emotionality caused by fear of the unknown or a challenge to the status quo of an individual. Jim rises as the main antagonist through emotional attribution in the film and as a direct response to dealing with his emotional inadequacies. Jim consistently uses the foot-in-the-door technique to portray Edward negatively and increase everyone’s chances of disliking him. Weiten (517) defines the foot-in-the-door technique as the ability of a person to get everyone to agree with his or her smaller request so that they can later agree to larger requests. As the drama unfolds, Edward shows his love for Kim and the two continue to spend time together which annoys Jim even more. As the friendship bond between the two grows, Jim seizes the chance to exploit Edward’s vulnerability and innocence such as the ability to pick up locks and break into his own parents’ house. The moment burglar alarm rings, everyone escapes except for Edward and Jim thwarts Kim’s insistence that they should go back to save him. On another occasion, when Kim is dancing on the shavings of the ice create Edward has made, Jim calls her so that she can accidentally land on his hands. Jim uses the opportunity to attack Edward for hurting Kim. Yet on another different occasion, Jim pushes Kelvin Boggs (played by Robert Oliveri) out of the way towards Edward when he is about to be knocked down by his drunken friend. In shock and panic, Edwards accidentally cuts Kelvin’s face making the those who witnessed the accident think that he did it on purpose. Therefore, Jim is responsible for the eventual neighborhood group polarization against Edward.
Agreeableness is a trait that is synonymous with sympathy, trust, modesty, straightforwardness, and cooperative. Apart from being agreeable, Peg Boggs (played by Dianne Wiest) is conscientious and open to experience. When Peg finds Edward alone i...
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