Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Interpreting Infidelity: Reading a British Film, Brief Encounter (1945), by Hispanic Men and Women

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Interpreting Infidelity: Reading a British Film, Brief Encounter (1945), by Hispanic Men and Women

Article excerpt


This brief study presents the interpretations of a British film, Brief Encounter (1945), by 102 Hispanic-American college students. The film presents a tale of infidelity and deception by two married people. The subjects are invited to speculate on the responses and reactions of their partners in the event of infidelity. The subjects are also asked to contemplate their own reactions were they to face the situation of infidelity of their partner. The paper describes the differences in responses by men and women. The paper suggests that the audience's reactions and interpretations to entertainment/media materials from other cultures are viewed through one's own cultural perspective, thus people from different cultures watching the same movie or reading the same book may actually be having very different experiences and responses.

Key words: Infidelity; Brief Encounter, Marriage; Culture


From playwrights such as Euripides and William Shakespeare to novelists such as Charlotte Bronte and D. H. Lawrence, writers from all ages and all cultures have used the theme of adultery as a foundation for some of the greatest literary works (Zur, 2012). Entertaining notions of sexual desires that are condemned by a society bring to surface dramatic elements such as passion, deception, betrayal, jealousy, conflict, and tragedy. Even the intention of adultery threatens to bring dire emotional consequences for concerned.

Since marriaSe md family 8erve as foundation of a 80ciety' *e act' or even 016 "tent' of adulteIy creates w "temal conflict-acting on one's impulses may lead to Personal haPPine88; it will also lead to social disapproval and unhappiness for others. In any story dealing with ada ^ 016 susPense 1,e? in 1116 readers' "ticipation. WU ^ characters surrender to their desires or will they terminate the precarious balancing act before falling? A reader may r00t for characters to take their pleasure but as s00n as ^ act is committed the readers may turn aSalnst adulterers and want t0 kn0"' lf "" ^ get away WIth ^ deed or recelve due.

Attitudes towards love, marriage, monogamy, and "®del'*y acr08s culture8' AttItudes als0 tend *° differ based on gender. According to Levine (1993) 96% of Americans felt that love was necessary for marriage. Hsu (1981) wrote that when considering marriage in an individualistic culture such as the United States, an individual asks, "How does my heart feel?" ^ a collectivistic culture such as China, a person asks, , what will other people say? In cultures such as India and Pakistan, only half of the people consider love as an important factor in marriage (Levine, 1993). In collectivistic cultures, the goal of a marriage is not necessarily the happiness of the couple; instead, the goal is to raise a family. In some cultures, the traditional of marriage between a male and a female be on the decline, however, forming romantic relationships is a "universal human activity" and 95% people get married (Floyd, 2009).

Research has shown that married people live longer (Kaplan & Kronick, 2006; Manzoli, Villarti, Pirone & Boccia, 2007) and are healthier (Macintyre, 1992). Additionally, married people are less likely to engage in risky health behavior (Floyd, 2009) and are less likely to abuse alcohol (Duncan, Wilkerson & England, 2006) or use other illicit substances (Bachman, Wadsworth, O'Malley, Johnson & Schulenberg, 1997), whereas single people are more likely to suffer from mental illness, depression, and other psychosomatic issues (Kim & McKenry, 2002; Lamb, Lee

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