The Iron Lady - My Interpretation of the Metaphors
It wasn’t until after I had seen the trailer that I become interested in watching this film. I didn’t know much about Margaret Thatcher (Not that this film can be completely trusted in its portrayal of her), but what I did know is that this looked to be a powerful film. The films tagline ‘never compromise’ also caught my attention.
Now that I have seen the film I would say it demonstrates how our childhood can influence our later life; in terms of our behaviour and what we want from life. It shows the pros and cons of how society was. And it signifies what can be achieved when one is determined and committed to their purpose. There are of course metaphors in this film; however my primary focus this time is on the films psychological aspects.
These psychological aspects and metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors and psychological aspects are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view. I would also like to add that this is in no way a judgement on Margaret Thatcher or her life. This is just my interpretation of the film and what the film displayed.
This will mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. There will also be parts that I don’t understand and that will also be a reason as to why it has not been mentioned. This will also mean that it will not be like a story board and that I won’t be describing the whole story.
So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin.
The film starts off with Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) in the present day. Here, she her begins to have flash backs off her younger years.
Air Raid Siren
In the first scene of Margaret (Alexandra Roach) as a young girl, we are taken right back to the war; with her and her family hiding under a table. This shows that her family was not a like normal family. Her family probably had very little time for her as their own business needed so much of their attention. The amount of time and attention available to Margaret must have been limited by this business. Once this is over we see Margaret at a local political speech; where she hangs onto every word that is being said. It is clear to see that she is intrigued by it all.
After this we find that she has been accepted to go to Oxford University. She calls her mother to tell her and her mother says that her hands are wet and walks off.
It is at this point that we begin to get an understanding of her upbringing. Although this is a one off occurrence in the film (typically films only include what is meaningful and parts that are the most symbolic for the development of a story), it could be interpreted to mean that her mother is distant and doesn’t seem too interested in her daughter’s achievements. This would have felt like rejection and abandonment to Margaret.
During the first moments of her political career we see her form a relationship with a man called Denis (Harry Lloyd). And when he asks her to marry him, she says that she doesn’t want do what women usually do.
Denis agrees and says that it’s because she is different that he wants to marry her. With Margaret having a very masculine side to her, it is inevitable that she is going to attract a man who is easy going and somewhat submissive.
During a scene where it goes back to Margaret in the present day; she mentions how people of today want to be someone and before they wanted to give something.
This shows a radical change in how society is today and that people’s mentality has altered. Margaret is generalising of course and yet I think it is clear to see that what she says has some truth to it.
In today’s world the focus is more on the individual than it is on the society. And because of this, it would be natural to assume that people are more evolved than before. But the fact that people are trying to be someone as opposed to giving something shows that this is far from the truth.
What it actually shows is that peoples own ego needs and basic survival needs have not been met and to compensate for that they are trying to gain the approval and the acceptance of the world in order to know who they are and to achieve an identity.
If they knew who they were and their needs had been met, then they would more likely be in a position to make a different to the world. This is because they have taken care of their own basic needs, which has involved them taking from the world and now they can give something back to the world.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that before people were more evolved, what it could mean is that before it was more of a compromise for people and that now it has gone to the other extreme. So that people can really make a difference to society and to the world by taking care of themselves first.
Margaret’s children are seen to be chasing her car; wanting to go with their mother, but they are left behind.
We see her children being ignored and neglected in this scene or at least it could be interpreted that way. Perhaps this is how Margaret’s mother was. When Margaret received her letter of acceptance into Oxford University her mother was apathetic.
In The Kitchen
Denis (Jim Broadbent) is cooking and soon after Margaret comes in. Here she soon takes charge and takes over the cooking. She says that she is going to go for party leader.
It is here that we can see her childhood patterns emerge once more. Her daughter feels left out as does her husband. They want Margaret to be there for them, but she is too busy with her own life and doesn’t have the time for them.
Just like where her mother was too busy to see her acceptance letter for university, Margaret is playing the same role by being too busy for her family. The way that Margaret is behaving here could the result of having her own needs neglected as a child and of having to work from a young age. And now she is taking care of herself, but she is also neglecting her own family
During one of Margaret’s speeches she says that because of Britain’s past, Britain is always looking to the past to decide what it is going to do and what it is capable of.
And as America has no history it has nothing to look back on and therefore they can choose what they are going to do and that they have no past to limit them.
I think this is a fascinating way of looking at it. This is not only relevant to countries; it can also be applied to people. It is our past and the story we have created as individuals that will typically define what actions we will take in life and what we are capable of.
There if often talk of erasing ones memory; however this could lead to one making the same mistakes. What is far greater is to remove the emotional charge of one’s memories. This way one is less likely to make the same mistake again and be able to progress without being tied down emotionally.
In the scene where the politicians are all sat around the table; Margaret says that the rest of the politicians feel guilty because they haven’t had to work their way up like she has. And that because she came from nothing she doesn’t feel the same guilt as they do, because she deserves to be there.
I am no expert here, but this is surely a common occurrence with politicians. And this of course makes it hard for people to relate to them and for them to relate to the general public. But Margaret didn’t have this problem and this must have aided her in becoming as successful as she did. It gave her authenticity and realism.
When Margaret is getting her eyes tested she is asked what it is she is feeling. Margaret says that people are only interested in what people feel now and not in what they are thinking.
Here she mentions the following quote – “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” This is a profound quote and one that she clearly heeded. What she was specifically referring to by what she said is unclear and could be interpreted in numerous ways.
In today’s society the media is everywhere we look and has the power to influence us on every level. This of course removes the need for one to think, because it has already been done for us. Critical thinking is rarely encouraged or taught. Making people susceptible to believing everything they see and hear. The ability to question is often under developed.
When it comes down to selling things; feelings are always targeted, this is because these are often uncontrollable and unable to be challenged by logic. It could be said that money is often made from fulfilling people’s wants and not their needs.
The End Of Power
In this scene we see Margaret Thatcher leaving her position of power. She looks saddened by this and rejected. We have seen throughout the whole film how Margaret has continually been dismissed and rejected and now this must feel like the biggest rejection of all. She was also different to other women and must have felt isolated by this.
This could be a metaphor for how she felt with her own mother. And now she feels rejected and isolated by the whole country.
In the final scene Margaret appears to let go of the delusion she was having and Denis goes from her mind. We see him walk off into the distance and he soon disappears.
This could be interpreted to mean that she has finally moved on from the past and is ready to move on with her life and into the present moment.
We can see that Margaret Thatcher was an incredibly strong woman, a woman that suffered numerous setbacks. But these setbacks never stopped her and only made her carry on and fulfil her purpose. She was clearly a role model for women during her time in power and for many years after. And perhaps even too this day there are people who see her in the same way.
I have intentionally avoiding going into the political side of things and this is because this write up is not about politics; it is about understanding or at least trying to understand Margaret Thatcher at a psychological level. This article was not written to make judgments as to whether she was a good politician or not.
It also shows how success and the pursuit of one’s dreams can cause other areas of life to suffer. This is especially true when one has a family to think about. Margaret Thatcher was different; not only on the outside, but on the inside. She thought differently and behaved differently.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.