"MRS. ROBINSON, YOU'RE TRYING TO SEDUCE ME"

Every Bronte book I have ever read about Branwell and his alleged affair with Lydia Robinson, for some reason, makes me hum the Simon & Garfunkel tune "Mrs. Robinson" from the 1967 film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman. I thought about this further and while investigating, found some strange similarities.

BRANWELL BRONTE

Branwell Bronte

 

 

The script from The Graduate was written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, and adapted from Charles Webb's popular novel. My guess is that Charles Webb was a Bronte fan -- and used elements for his story from Branwell's life.

No, Benjamin Braddock was not a drug and alcohol abuser, but check out these similarities below.

 

BENJAMIN BRADDOCK

Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock

Branwell Bronte - Benjamin Braddock? Even the name choice makes you wonder.
 

Lydia Robinson was supposedly in her 40s, as was Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. WHY use the name Mrs. Robinson as the main character? A side note: in actuality, Anne Bancroft was 36 years old in real life. Dustin Hoffman who played the role, was actually 30, but could pull off looking 21.

 
Benjamin was asked at the beginning of the film “What are your plans for the future Benjamin?” and he said “It’s a little hard to say. I'm disturbed about things in general.” This sounds all too well like Branwell.
 
Branwell was rumored to have affections for Lydia Robinson's daughter. Did he turn his affections then to the mother, Lydia? Lydia's daughter ran off and married an actor and was disowned by the family. In comparison, Benjamin turned his affections from Mrs. Robinson, to the daughter, Elaine. Elaine was marrying a medical student towards the end of the film, but ran off with Benjamin...who was not "good enough."
 
On Branwell’s deathbed he stated “I have done nothing good or great with my life.” Benjamin said to Elaine Robinson, “My whole life is such a waste, it’s just nothing” after telling her he had had an affair with a married woman.
 
Mr. Robinson found out about Branwell's “proceedings bad beyond expression" with his wife, and was promptly dismissed. Mr. Robinson in The Graduate found out about the affair and confronted Benjamin with “I think you are scum. I think you are a degenerate."
 
Mr. Robinson supposedly withdrew all financial inheritance to Lydia if she had any further contact with Branwell. Mr. Robinson in The Graduate told Benjamin that “I think I can get you behind bars if you even look at my daughter again.”
 
Branwell was encouraged that his future was in “the railroad.” Benjamin was told that his future was in “plastics.” (As a side note: The most famous line of the movie - "Plastics!" - never appears in the novel by Charles Webb. It was added by screenwriter Buck Henry, who in turn borrowed it from his college art history professor. Buck never had that particular conversation with the teacher. Instead, the eccentric professor spoke of a futuristic society that would wrap everything in his favorite man-made material. Although his vision never came to be, his words of wisdom live on - albeit on celluloid.
 

Could this not be a conversation between Branwell and Patrick Bronte?

Mr. Braddock: What's wrong Ben?

Ben: I'm just...

Mr. Braddock: ...worried?

Ben: Well...

Mr. Braddock: About what?

Ben: I guess about my future.

Mr. Braddock: What about it?

Ben: I don't know. I want it to be...

Mr. Braddock: ...to be what?

Ben: ...Different.

Well, Branwell's life was certainly not different in todays standards.

 

Branwell was 5’3” How interesting that Robert Redford was up for the role of Benjamin Braddock, but he refused to play Benjamin because he thought that he could not successfully act as naive as the part required. Director Mike Nichols chose the unknown Dustin Hoffman to play the hero of Webb's novel. How ironic too that Dustin Hoffman's physical appearance is "atypical" for a Hollywood leading man, which is a diplomatic way of saying he's a "short" guy with a sizable nose. Anyone know how tall Dustin Hoffman really is?
 

In The Graduate, at the bottom of the aquarium tank is a model of a diver - symbolizing Ben's "drowning" and foreshadowing the scene in which he shows off scuba gear and hides from everyone by sinking to the bottom of the swimming pool. And Branwell....wasn't he drowning in his own inner despair and sinking into his infernal world of drugs?

 

The information above was gathered from sites covering material on The Graduate. The similarity between Branwell and Benjamin seems to be the same: the troubles of youth and uncertainty, and an affair between an older woman and a younger man....and some of it may be stretching it a bit......but I would still like to talk to Charles Webb or Buck Henry. :)

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