harold and maude analysis

MAUDE: . Harold considers Maude’s parting words as he drives his hearse around crazily, contemplates suicide, and thinks better of it. (Higgins, p. 99); prompted by Maude ending her life, he destroys the hearse. I couldn’t bear it. (Higgins, p. 46). Maude is always looking for the new experience; she prefers to end her life at 80 rather than “just marking time”; Mrs. Chasen arranges dates for Harold to make his life more meaningful; Uncle Victor wants to “make a man” of Harold; Harold pretends to enjoy killing, in order to escape the draft; the psychiatrist puts down Harold’s desire for Maude as an Oedipus complex, and the priest is sickened by it; Harold wants to marry Maude. It’s no surprise. Harold was unaware that when he met Maude, she had planed all along to end her life at the age of eighty. MAUDE:  Greet the dawn with the Breath of Fire! MAUDE:  I’ll be eighty next week. Maude looks back on her varied life, and considers that: Everyone wants Harold to live his life in the way they recommend: Mrs. Chasen wants him to marry a nice young woman and drive a nice sports car; Uncle Victor wants him to “take on a man’s job” in the Army and die for his country “like Nathan Hale”; the priest wants Harold to marry someone who can give him children; the psychiatrist thinks Harold’s “alienation from the regular social interaction” can be isolated and coped with; Maude encourages Harold to embrace life and growth and love, like her. I should be gone by midnight. All of this is due to the journey he's taken. HAROLD:  Maude, please. Make good things happen.”, Maude relates to Harold the words she lives her life by: Maude has mastered many skills and gone onto others, and has accumulated a wealth of experience. A happy Maude takes a fateful step into the unknown: (Higgins, p. 9) Mrs. Chasen gets the idea of marriage as a way to change Harold, and sets him up with a dating service. His only way of getting his mother’s attention is to pretend he’s dead. HAROLD:  But when you take these cars don’t you think you are wronging the owners? MAUDE:  I like to keep a variety. Do you think it’s wrong? Mrs. Chasen et al regard her as decrepit and useless, but her wisdom and insight enable her to emotionally connect with Harold, bringing him out of his shell. Cat Stevens music defined a generation, and Harold and Maude are no exception. (Higgins, p. 61). I don’t think so. Mrs. Chasen feels that unless Harold grows up and takes on a life of responsibility such as she has, she may be subject to more acting out from him; Uncle Victor suspects that Harold’s penchant for killing may get him (and the family name) into trouble. By showing Harold the wonders of her fantasy-filled life and returning his love, Maude presents him with new possibilities of enjoying life—and an alternative to his imaginary suicides. Mrs. Chasen and Uncle Victor apply conventional wisdom to what they see as Harold’s problem: institutionalize him, if not in marriage then in the Army; Mrs. Chasen, the priest, the psychiatrist, and Uncle Victor subject Harold to their wise opinions of why he shouldn’t marry Maude; Explaining a bit too subtly why she’ll be leaving Harold well before the altar, Maude shares with him the wisdom of a maxim she read on the head of a pin: Unlike his psychiatrist, Maude is able to discern the reasons behind Harold’s suicide game, and suggest an alternative: MAUDE:  “And this too shall pass away.”  (fluttery laugh)  And the wise man was right - if you remember that, you can’t help but live life fully. Maude’s accentuating of the positive causes Harold to give up his staging of fake suicides; she’s such an influence on young Harold that he falls in love with her, laboring under the illusion that she’ll want to marry him just as he does her. Mrs. Chasen has learned to control her reflexes, no longer as shocked by Harold’s suicides as she once was; by seeing Harold’s over-reaction to Maude the protester, Uncle Victor’s enthusiasm for the killing impulse is softened somewhat; Harold learns that there other ways to respond to Maude’s “crimes” than the conventional gut reactions he’s absorbed from his mother. Maude rescues a tree and transplants it so that it may have a better life in the future; She has planned her own death to occur on Saturday, and moves confidently towards her date with death; Maude consigns Harold’s gift to a watery grave, so “I’ll always know where it is.”  Finally, Maude advances Harold’s appreciation of life and living so that he’ll enjoy life once she’s gone. The qualities valued by the older generation around him—conformity, serving one’s country, marrying one’s own kind, etc.—hold little meaning for Harold. Because there are a million things to be, you know that there are.”, Maude intuits that Harold probably doesn’t sing and dance, but also:

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