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Tootsie and Six Degrees of Separation

This paper compares and contrasts the aesthetic aspects of Sydney Pollack's 1982 film, Tootsie, and John Guare's 1990 play, Six Degrees of Separation. Both are contemporary comedies, dealing in part with the nature of reality and the importance (or lack thereof) of truth. Both offer duplicitous characters who, by pretending to be someone they are not, change the lives of those around them. One becomes a better man as a result of the experience of pretending to be a woman; the other is not himself changed but instead forces the wealthy matron he encounters to try to make sense of her life and to expand her imagination. Each is an example of a distinct aesthetic object, Tootsie as a film and Six Degrees as a written play, a literary work that can be staged as a dramatic performance. Each is intended by the creating artist to provide an aesthetic experience for the audience that clarifies, completes, and confronts reality in an entertaining and satisfying way.

Tootsie recounts the tale of an actor, Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), who is fiercely talented but usually unemployed, the result of his obsessive perfectionism. While playing a tomato in a commercial, he is asked to sit down; he refuses, arguing that a tomato, especially one as ripe and juicy as the beefsteak variety he is portraying, could not sit. Accompanying a neurotic friend to a soap opera audition, he decides to read for the role himself. He transforms himself into Dorothy Michaels, a soft-spoken Southern belle with a will of iron, and lands the job. Ultimately, he becomes the victim of his own creation and is finally forced to reveal his true identity when the network exercises its option to tie him to a long-term contract. At first, the people who came to know and love Dorothy feel deeply betrayed; in the end, they realize that Dorothy is an important part of Michael, perhaps even, as he puts it, "the best part."

Hoffman conceived the original concept ...

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Tootsie and Six Degrees of Separation. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 15:40, December 07, 2021, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1708196.html