Humans generally have only two responses to adversity. On the one hand, some people brave the torrid waters of misfortune, make landfall in the Isles of the Blessed and are all the better for it. For others, the preferable alternative is to weigh themselves down in those same waters, suffocated and surrounded by despondency. In Blue Jasmine, however, the main character does not venture down either branch of this seemingly twofold path. Rather, Jasmine rejects all notions of adversity and radical change in their entirety. With each successive opportunity in which a typical individual would either overcome or drown in their own sorrows, Jasmine spins a wilder and more eloquent web of denial, falling deeper into a devil’s circle of her own design. To that end, I will argue that in Blue Jasmine, the character of Jasmine has completely succumbed to Mara, trapping herself in a devil’s circle that is both generated and sustained through her own egotism, acquisitiveness, and hauteur.Buddhism teaches that root cause of the devil’s circle is ignorance, literally a lack of knowledge. Jasmine’s devil’s circle is rather atypical, as she chooses to remain willfully ignorant of reality, as opposed to a typical devil’s circle in which the captive is generally unknowingly ignorant. More than this, it appears that Jasmine uses this willful ignorance as an attempt to hide her own insecurities. The end result of this facade is nothing short of the elitist egotism that Jasmine portrays throughout the movie. The true ignorance of Jasmine’s behavior, however, is that she truly believes that retreating into wealth and social class is a solution to her insecurities rather than a cleverly crafted mask. Much like in The Great Gatsby, the refuge found in retreating into wealth and vast carelessness is nothing more than an attempted at insulation from radical change, one in which the more change that accumulates, the further the refugee will be pulled into their devil’s circle. Jasmine, too, falls into the same cycle of repeating the past as Gatsby, learning no lessons from her past life in New York. In order fully understand Jasmine’s continued cycle of self-abuse and rejection of radical contingency, it is similarly imperative to examine the original basis for her character: Tennessee Williams’s character, Blanche DuBois.It’s no secret that Blue Jasmine is a near beat-by-beat retelling of A Streetcar Named Desire, in which Jasmine is a stand-in for Blanche, while Ginger is a stand-in for Stella. Comparing those four characters is paramount in understanding the psychotic break of both Jasmine and Blanche. In both renditions, Jasmine and Blanche are appalled by the living conditions of their respective sisters, and the brute of a man that they have married. Similarly, both characters are incredibly superficial individuals, whose husbands were driven to suicide either directly or indirectly through their actions. What’s more, both Ginger and Stella ultimately accept their husbands and their positions in life, while both Jasmine and Blanche reject their reality and suffer a full psychotic break. Those facts circle around the crux of both stories: the acceptance that individuals really have no control over their own life. Because both Blanche and Jasmine reject this fundamental truth of reality, the truth of radical contingency, they become trapped in their respective devil’s circles, seemingly in a state of eternal denial. After all, regardless of someone’s willingness to accept radical change, radical change will continue to happen. The rejection of this truth and impermanence of reality is, by definition, part of the core of Mara.The final, and possibly most revealing part of Blue Jasmine, is the ending. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche has a psychotic break after being raped. After that incident, she is admitted to a mental asylum, where she seemingly comes to terms with the nature of her reality, accepting that she heavily relies on the kindness of strangers. In Blue Jasmine, however, Jasmine’s devolution into her breakdown is far more severe. Rather than a series of traumas that culminate in the rape of the main character, Blue Jasmine simply pushes the main character over the edge, leaving her alone with her own thoughts and hopes for a better time, muttering to herself. This seemingly insignificant change actually fundamentally alters the meaning of the entire story. While a sad and frequently sardonic tale, it can be said that Tennessee Williams’s story is ultimately one of acceptance, and ends on a more hopeful note. Woody Allen’s version, however, removes all notions of hope in their entirety and similarly focuses on lack of acceptance and lack of control. Jasmine, then, has completely succumbed to Mara, having thoroughly rejected radical change at every opportunity.The fear that humans associate with radical change is directly related to another primal fear: a fear of the unknown. After all, radical change is nothing if not a manifestation and constant renewal of the unknown. Buddhism teaches that in order to find true peace, one must effectively give oneself over to this unknown, the impermanence of radical contingency. For many people, the outright rejection of those concepts is easier. Rather than face them, the craft a complex and intricate web of lies, much like how Jasmine herself crafts a web of lies throughout the film. Once complete, this web becomes a near inescapable devil’s circle and, in effect, a psychological opiate. Given this information, while the end scene may shock the viewer, but it really is not surprising. Jasmine’s behaviors led her down a path with only one logical conclusion, the one that takes place on screen. It is likely that Jasmine will continue to be anchored to her devil’s circle for the remainder of her life, and possibly well after her death. If it is the latter, then Jasmine is likely to continue her cycle of samsara in an attempt to work out of her self-constructed devil’s circle, until finally being able to achieve a liberating insight and work toward enlightenment.

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