Psychology Forrest Gump Term Paper

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Forrest Gump

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and analyze the film Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis. Specifically it will examine the character of Forrest Gump as it relates to human development and psychology. Forrest Gump's character in the film displays several characteristics of psychology, including emotion (Forrest is always emotional and demonstrative), naivete (his innocence is part of his charm), adult development (he matures, but not mentally), limited IQ, behavior and adaptation (he adapts to situations around him with ease). He also displays learning and conditioning (he learns from his mother's wisdom and his experiences), and of course, personality and social and moral development (as he matures he sees the world around him for what it is, and accepts it). His character is complex in its simplicity, which makes it a good character to analyze this way.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Psychology Forrest Gump the Purpose of This Assignment

Part of Forrest's charm is his innocence or naivete, which is part of his charm throughout the movie, but also leads him to make improper judgments about people around him. For example, Jenny's father is clearly a child abuser, yet Forrest describes him as, "a very loving man, always kissing and touching Jenny" (Forrest Gump, 1994). Forrest's metal capacities are less than most of those around him, which causes him to see things differently in his mind. Because of this, his observations are often humorous, but they are quite innocent and non-judgmental as well, which gets the audience thinking about how they view the world around them. For example, Forrest's summation of Vietnam is simple. He says of the war, "I got to see a lot of countryside. We took these long walks. And we were always looking for a guy named Charlie" (Forrest Gump, 1994). His view of the world is overly simple, and yet, he is a complex character who lives through many different phases of life and does manage to grow and change with these phases. This is also true of his views on death and dying. He sees his mother and Jenny both succumb to painful diseases, and yet he does not become bitter or depressed over these losses. Like the other things in his life, he accepts them, rather than "thinking" about them so much that they become obsessions that ruin his life. Perhaps the filmmaker is saying that "normal" people think too much, and Forrest, in his simplicity, is actually much happier and more content with his life and life occurrences.

Forrest's innocence is like that of a child, which also helps make him more emotional than many adults even think of being. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and is never afraid to show someone how he feels, such as the time he sees Lt. Dan after the war, and is so incredibly happy to see him that he can hardly contain himself. Forrest is like that, he is not ashamed of his emotions and in that, he is like a child, always at wonder about the world around him, and not afraid to show it. This is another aspect of his psychology that is endearing and at odds with most adults. Forrest has the innocence and trust of a child, and so, he makes the audience look at their own cynicism and bitterness and question it. The character is deceptively simple, because in his simplicity and honesty he creates questions and wonder in the audience, and perhaps brings them to question their own emotions and innocence (or lack of it). He never sees the bad in a situation, only the good, and this makes him endearing, and someone to emulate, as well.

Forrest's adult development is a large part of the film, and while he matures, joins the Army, and does many of the things other adults do, such as find a career and become successful in it, he does not fully develop emotionally as an adult. His IQ, which is somewhere around 75, according to the film, keep him permanently childlike and innocent, which is his charm, but does not allow him to become a fully developed man. His romance with Jenny is an example of this. He loves her, but with the childlike worship of a young boy. They never enjoy a fully adult romantic relationship, because by the time Jenny comes back to him, she is dying from AIDS, and becomes dependent on him, but not in an adult romantic relationship. Forrest cares for her, and never judges her, but he does not have a mature, adult, sexual relationship with her, and this helps indicate that he is an adult, but his mind cannot accept some of the ideas and item that make up adult relationships. Today, people would probably call him "developmentally disabled" or "mentally challenged," and it is this aspect of his personality that makes him most different from other adults. He retains the childlike innocence of youth, but he is not emotionally ready for the commitment of a full, romantic relationship, with all the sexuality and maturity that implies.

Forrest's behavior and adaptation are two of his most important qualities in the film. Unlike most adults, Forrest does not make the choices he makes based on society or peer pressure. He does what he wants when he wants, and does not think of the results of his actions. He joins the Army not really understanding what he is going to do, and in the end, he sees it as a positive experience. He becomes a ping-pong player by chance, and becomes a shrimp boat owner because of a vague promise to a friend. None of his actions are planned, and neither are the outcomes, and yet, Forrest always succeeds, partly because of his innocence and trust. He cannot fathom the negative, and so, he only sees and experiences the positive. Through the film he matures in age (though not emotionally), and he adapts to any situation that comes his way. He manages to adapt to death, wealth, friendship, and fame, and it does not faze him at all. In fact, he seems to be able to adapt to just about any situation, partly because he does not understand the implications of the situations where he finds himself. He simply "goes with the flow" like the feather floating on the wind in the opening of the film. Forrest is in a sense that feather, and his life floats on of its own accord. He is at the center of it, and he adapts to what happens around him, but just like the feather, he is blown by the wind, rather than in charge of his own fate and his own reactions to that fate. Forrest is adaptable because of his simplicity and childlike wonder at everything around him, and he simply cannot see anything bad happening to him. This may be unrealistic, but it works in this character, and makes him all the more charming and wholly good to the audience.

While Forrest is simple, he has learned lessons from his life, especially those his mother taught him. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get," and "Stupid is as stupid does" are two of her most memorable parables, but there are many others, and Forrest seems to grasp these different concepts quickly and easily, proving he can learn from his experiences. He is also conditioned by his experiences. For example, as a young boy, he did not have many friends because of his mental problems and his braces on his legs, so he adapts to being alone, befriends just one special friend, and is conditioned by these experiences to always bond with the "underdog" or other misfits in his life. Jenny is abused and turns to drugs and the counterculture to survive, Bubba is a dim-witted fellow soldier, and Lt. Dan is a paraplegic with a huge chip on his shoulder. And yet, Forrest befriends them all, conditioned by his own childhood experiences to accept and foster the misfits in life, just as he wanted to be accepted when he was young. He has learned painful lessons from his exclusion, and so, he accepts others as a result. In addition, he does take away something from his life experiences, even if he is not quite sure what that is. He meets presidents and celebrities, becomes a celebrity himself, and still manages to stay down to earth and kind, which comes from his own mother's support and love. She gave him love, and taught him to be a good person, and he carries those lessons with him throughout his life. They seem to be far more important than what he learned in school, because his life lessons continue to influence him, and help him retain his honesty, kindness, and understanding even when his situation changes throughout the film.

Behavior and adaptation are part of his growth as an adult, as well. He adapts to just about any situation, from running a shrimp boat to running across the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Psychology Forrest Gump" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Psychology Forrest Gump.  (2007, October 8).  Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Psychology Forrest Gump."  8 October 2007.  Web.  2 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Psychology Forrest Gump."  October 8, 2007.  Accessed December 2, 2021.