Evaluation of the Life of John Nash in Ron Howard’s Film, A Beautiful Mind

Published: 2021-08-30 15:40:11
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Delusions Defeated
John Nash is a brilliant, but awkward mathematician who has a stunning perspective of the world. He finds beauty in the ordinary and solves equations to discover the extraordinary. Although his unsociable nature seemed to bring him to a distance with his fellow graduate classmates at Princeton University, he was able to confide in his unique and peculiar dormitory roommate, Charles Herman, a literature student. While John dealt with his studies and daily struggles, his friend Charles assisted in comforting him and helped make those struggles a bit more bearable. Some years pass until the young genius is invited to the Pentagon to break a code for the government, and to their amazement, deciphers it mentally. He soon meets a mysterious supervisor for the Department of Defense, William Parcher, and is hired by him to find patterns in magazines and newspapers to foil a Soviet scheme. John visits Princeton and runs into Charles and his sweet young niece, Marcee. John is lucky to see his friend again and to befriend little precious Marcee. He is significantly more interested in his work more since he was given the privileged opportunity to do classified government work for the agent, Parcher. There just seems to be one problem – none of these people are real. The roommate Charles, the agent Parcher, and Charles’ niece Marcee are all delusions in John’s mind. In the film, A Beautiful Mind, delusion is defined as “a false idea or belief that is caused by mental illness” (Merriam-Webster) through the haunting hallucinations of John Nash.
A Beautiful Mind takes its audience on the journey of John Nash’s life. The way that the film progressed was in a way that made the viewers feel a part of John’s life experiences, including his delusions. When John interacted with his delusions, the audience could feel as if these characters were real – just as John felt as if they were. When it ultimately came to John’s realization that these people in his life turned out to actually not be real was when the viewers shared that same shock and sorrow that John felt. The movie was able to move its audience by having their emotions being connected to those of John’s. Therefore, the delusions in the film were able to give an accurate representation of just how real delusions can appear to a person who shares the same mental illness as John Nash.The delusions of John Nash are a result of a mental disorder John is diagnosed with at age thirty called schizophrenia. His symptoms from paranoid, or persecutory, schizophrenia starts to develop during his graduate school years. This is when Charles, his first hallucination, shows up in his life. Charles is seen as an easygoing and confident student, and can be represented as everything John is not and would want to be. The film does a good job at making Charles seem like a real person and friend of John, but simultaneously drops subtle hints on how some of his actions may seem a bit unusual. One example of this is when John is having a hard time with his work in his dorm, hits his head on his window out of frustration, and starts to have an argument with Charles. Charles then proceeds to yell at John telling him to do hurtful things to himself. Suddenly, Charles pushes out the large wooden desk out of their window, watching it fall and break into bits. This was an extreme and strange thing for a caring friend to do. Since the symptoms of schizophrenia include “argumentative behavior [and] violent tendencies” (America’s Mental Health Channel), this makes sense as to why Charles would be a delusion of John’s mind.
Just years later, John meets a student of his (and future wife), Alicia Lardé. They begin to fall in love as the Department of Defense agent William Parcher comes into his life. After deciphering the code at the Pentagon, John notices his next delusion, watching him. None of the other government officials seem to notice this other agent. Parcher later confronts John after watching him break the code and hires him to do top secret work for the government that included figuring out and foiling the plans of the Soviet Union. During this time of John’s life, there was a lot of propaganda about how the Soviets wanted to extract U.S. information. This caused a lot of tension and paranoia in the U.S. and the stress made John’s symptoms worse. Paranoid schizophrenia consists of “severe anxiety and agitation” (America’s Mental Health Channel), which is a big possibility for the delusion of Parcher being created in John’s mind.
The delusion that made all the hallucinations begin to seem unreal was none other than his little imaginary friend, Marcee. However, it was not right away. When he first encounters the niece of his former roommate, she comes out of nowhere as John is working sitting up against a tree. As Charles walks and talks with John about Marcee, Marcee runs around the pigeons on the grass – but they don’t fly away. This is a subtle hint that the movie provides to help show that she is a delusion. Several years later, John sees little Marcee again unexpectedly in his own home for no reason. But something dawns upon John – Marcee has remained a little girl, therefore appearing to have never aged: “She never gets old! Marcee can’t be real; she never gets old” (performance by Russel Crowe, A Beautiful Mind)! It was not until this moment with Marcee that John realized that his delusions could not be real.
John Nash’s delusions in result of his schizophrenia were huge obstacles in his life. Although they were powerful and persistent in constantly showing up in John’s mind, John eventually learned to fight back against his hallucinations and opened his eyes to what was real: his love for his wife. Believing in logic and reason, the genius mathematician taught himself to reason his mind out of his delusions. The film was beautifully able to define and describe delusions in a way that was absolutely eye-opening to its audience through the “beautiful mind” of John Nash.

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