How ‘An Education’ Reveals That Mental Maturity and Emotional Maturity Are Not the Same

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English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard at...

English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard, October 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just re-watched the BBC film An Education, [2008] starring the wonderful Carey Mulligan. I enjoyed it much more than the first time I saw it. Perhaps my head is in a different place.

Although I am not as clever as the Carey Mulligan character, (Jenny) who is based on the writer of the memoir, Lynn Barber, the school she attends really reminded me of the grammar school I went to in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even the insistence on the fastening of that top button of one’s school blouse…

It almost beggars belief that Jenny’s parents could be taken in by smooth talking David, the older, glamorous man, but when I look back my own parents were equally naive. Not that I was getting up to anything outrageous but I’m sure that they trusted me far too much. In effect, their trust, while flattering, could almost be seen as a benign neglect.

But when you are in the top class at school, singing songs in Latin in the choir, and articulate, you are trusted. Yet this does not mean that you are emotionally mature – not at all. This is the lesson that Jenny learns through her dalliance with David. She may have seen Paris and the insides of jazz clubs but she’s just a child playing dress up.

Incidentally, it was through going to church of England schools and singing in choirs that I always had some tenuous relationship with Christianity. Okay, I didn’t truly understand what it was I was singing about but the ground was prepared.

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