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Transformation Through Self-Control and Assertion

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Submitted By Killabmw624
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Metamorphosis is the process in which a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. The lowly caterpillar wraps itself into an ugly cocoon and over time the miraculous transformation occurs and out of that cocoon emerges this beautiful butterfly. Bill Rago, the main character in the movie Renaissance Man, goes through a similar transformation in his life. Bill is a divorced, passive-aggressive, advertising executive who reaches rock bottom when he loses his job and is forced to seek out unemployment. His unfortunate circumstance lands him a temp job as a civilian teacher on a military base. The problem is that he does not have any teaching experience and he is given a class of eight students who supposedly lack the basic comprehension skills to be successful in the military and are required to pass his class in order to complete basic training. Bill had to learn how to assert himself with this ragtag bunch in order to complete his assignment. According to Randy Paterson, assertiveness is a communication style in which a person realizes that they are in control of their own behavior and decision making (19). Bill, played by actor Danny DeVito, needed to learn that he dictates and controls his life and not other people or life circumstances. In order for him to transform and regain control of his life, Bill had to begin to assert himself in all areas of his life. One thing that portrayed Bill Rago’s lack of assertiveness, was the fact that he minimal self-control at best. “Self-control is generally considered to be the ability to override thoughts, behaviors, and feelings of a more automatic or habitual nature” (Meier and Wilkowski, 345). Without self-control Bill’s passive aggressive nature often presented itself in difficult situations. His passive-aggressive style was through the use of smart remarks or quick comeback jokes. That was his way of pushing aside the issue rather than address it directly. For example when he first introduced William Shakespeare to his students and they were not aware of who he was, Bill responds to their reaction with this “He wrote plays. Plays...? You know, like TV without the box,” assuming that they should have been knowledgeable of him (Marshall, Renaissance Man). If Bill had only took a few moments and practiced some self-control, his response probably would not have sounded as if he were saying they were dumb for not knowing who Shakespeare was and what he was known for. It was in this moment that Bill realized that he found his passion for Shakespeare will increase his self-control and will be what transforms his passive-aggressive nature into assertiveness. “All I know is, the choices you make dictate the life you lead. ‘To thine own self be true’ (Marshall, Renaissance Man). When Bill Rago stated this to his students it showed the beginning of him grasping the concept of self-control and began asserting himself more and more throughout the rest of the film. Bill’s transformation began when he found out that his students were actually interested in Shakespeare after his initial introduction to him. So he made it his mission to ensure that his students will be deemed competent through his passion for Shakespeare. Bill’s new found assertiveness did not just stop with his teaching style. Other areas of his life such as his family life, where he pawned some of personal belongings to purchase a telescope and a ticket for a trip that his daughter wanted to go on. At work he was able to assert himself enough to gain the respect of the Drill Sergeant, played by Gregory Hines, Sergeant Cass who felt that Rago’s class was a waste of time and money, but realized that the students were actually learning something as well as beginning to excel in their basic military training changed his attitude. Bill even took on the assault course that the recruits use for their training. He even took his new found assertiveness into his personal life and started dating a soldier named Marie. Bill does have one more challenge that really put his assertiveness transformation to the test. Bill went to inform the Captain that he will be giving the students a final exam in order to validate their own transformations into being competent soldiers and the Captain tells him that a final exam is not required and that if the students fail they will be kicked out of the Army. Bill communicated what the Captain said to his students with the expectation that they will still decide to take his final exam. When test day came Bill became slightly restless and started to lose a little bit of his hope because his students did not show up to class on time, but when they finally showed up Bill was overjoyed and administered his oral exam in his now flourishing assertiveness that he gained over the previous six weeks. In the end Bill Rago’s transformation is complete when he witnesses his students graduate and he signs on to continue teaching his Shakespeare class at the academy permanently. Bill is now capable to communicate assertively without offending those he communicates with as well as others around. His newly developed assertiveness comes with increased confidence. Heather Dallas states that “confidence is core to being assertive.” She also goes on to say that people have external confidence and inner confidence (Dallas, 36). Bill definitely had his external confidence on full display through his body language and speech as the film progressed. Also the glimmer of interest that he saw from his students, allowed his inner confidence in his knowledge of Shakespeare to shine and developed his self-control and aided in the transformation process of Bill Rago embracing assertiveness as his preferred communication style. Works Cited
Renaissance Man. Dir. Adam Greenberg and Penny Marshall. Pref. Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, Mark Wahlberg, Kadeem Harrison and Stacey Dash. DVD. Touchstone Pictures, 1994.
Dallas, Heather. "'Assertiveness is the Best Form of Communication'." Vital 8.1 (2011): 36-7. . EBSCO .
Meier, Brian P., and Benjamin M. Wilkowski. "Reducing the Tendency to Aggress: Insights from Social and Personality Psychology." Social & Personality Psychology Compass 7.6 (2013): 343-54. . EBSCO .
Paterson, Randy. The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships. New Harbinger Publications, 2000. Print.…...

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