Importance of Humanities in the Professions Capstone Project

Excerpt from Capstone Project :


Importance of the humanities in the professions:

A comparison of "Paul's Case," Muriel's Wedding and Andy Warhol's rendition of Marilyn Monroe

The modern concept of 'celebrity' is that anyone can be famous, provided that he or she embodies an ideal of glamour, using material trappings like clothing and possessions to show his or her 'specialness.' This is a common method of 'selling' a particular product in business.

The idea is paradoxical -- on one hand, celebrities are special, on the other hand the media suggests everyone can be a celebrity and 'famous for 15 minutes' if they buy the right item.

This can be seen in "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather, about a boy who feels as if he is above his classmates.

Paul desires to have a celebrity-like status, based upon his perceptions of himself as having innately refined tastes.

But this costs money, and Paul is unwilling to put in the hard work to succeed and instead steals this money.

A less tragic and more comic version of Paul can be seen in the 1994 film Muriel's Wedding. Muriel lives in a rural town in Australia, and believes that having a big wedding like she sees in fashion magazines will bring her happiness.

Paul's and Muriel's fascination with celebrity is echoed in Andy Warhol's pictures of Marilyn Monroe, endlessly replicating Monroe's image to illustrate the ubiquity and emptiness of celebrity, as it is sold in the world of commerce


"Paul's Case" by Willa Cather

Details the death of a dreamy young man who believes he is 'above' his surroundings.

Paul escapes into the theater and into his mind.

Paul is disgusted by commerce, and the everyday workings and demands of the world.

Eventually Paul steals money, commits suicide after his funds run dry.

Muriel's Wedding -- film directed by P.J. Hogan

Muriel, like Paul, lives in a rural area and dreams of making it big in the city.

Muriel has low-self-esteem, rather than is narcissistic like Paul, although she also steals
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to make herself embody an ideal of glamour.

Eventually after participating in a sham marriage to get her 'husband' a green card, Muriel comes to realize the false promise of marriage for women as fulfillment, and helps care for her best friend Rachel.

"Marilyn" by Andy Warhol

Warhol took still photos of the recently-deceased film star and colored in the work with bright, unnatural shades after replicating the image.

Warhol creates an intentionally mass-produced image in his art.

Repeats image to point of meaninglessness

Image of Marilyn no longer 'herself'


Cather does not sympathize with Paul -- although he is regarded as a figure of fun at school, this does not make Paul a sympathetic underdog.

Paul holds himself aloof, clearly acting as if he feels he is better than both the other students and teachers

Why the story is called Paul's 'case' rather than Paul's story?

According to Rob Saari, Paul has a clinical narcissistic personality disorder, with dreams of grandiosity and a lack of empathy for others.

Symbolically, like Narcissus, Paul dies pining over his own image, face down in the water (in Paul's case, the snow) (Sari 1997)

Paul is unwilling to 'work' to get the beautiful things he desires, and his appreciation of art is superficial rather than real -- he loves associating with the theater 'types' but does not apply himself to become an actor

Muriel similarly steals rather than works hard to make it to the city, but she is more sympathetic because of her weight and how she is mistreated by her parents.

Muriel's theft is presented in a more positive fashion because it allows her to embark on a journey of self-discovery, although she ultimately rejects the idea of a wedding as the source of all of her happiness.

The tone of the film is more comedic than tragic and satiric like the Cather story.

Of Warhol's use of the unnatural colors in his Marilyn image: "Unlike the Fauve colors, the non-representational colors of Pop Art do not depict the artist's inner sensation of the world. They refer to the popular culture, which also inspires Warhol…

Sources Used in Documents:


Andy Warhol's Marilyn prints. Web Exhibits. Retrieved October 11, 2011 at

Cather, Willa. Paul's case. Retrieved October 11, 2011 at

Muriel's Wedding. (1994). Directed by P.J. Hogan.

Saari, Rob. (1996). "Paul's case": A narcissistic personality disorder. Studies in Short

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