Gaston Bachelard, in the text The Poetics of Space, takes a critical look at the human relationships with the spaces within their environment. I can relate to Bachelard’s argument, especially considering that the home is where I find security and a peaceful environment for me to reflect on my life. This is especially where he describes the home as a space for imagination. In essence, he means that this is a critical space that offers an individual the ability to dream. Rather than engaging in psychoanalysis to determine human creativity and other relations, Bachelard looks at the human spaces, what he describes as the poetic image. Bachelard’s perspective does not necessarily relate to poetry but to how images are conjured or consciously perceived in society. In this case, the author examines how the home plays a significant role in an individual’s imagination. Bachelard’s statement, “Specifically, a house can be “a nest for dreaming” and “a shelter for imagining,” sums up the author’s perception that the home or the house is not only a protective space but also an environment that nurtures the mind.
Bachelard’s statement has two significant words, “A nest for dreaming” and “A shelter for imagining.” The first statement, “A nest for dreaming,” explores the idea of the external versus the internal. In reference to his ideology, the home is an internal environment, while the outside world is the external environment. For instance, after a long day’s work, one looks forward to going home. It is a space for relaxation and reflection. In the second statement, the author describes the home as a secure space. By referencing shelter, he describes it as a place that offers security or a space that shields one from external interference. Thinking of such a space, I often seek the comfort of the home, not just when I am tired but when I seek to reflect on myself and the aspects affecting me. I can relate to Bachelard’s statement, which describes the home not just as a nest for dreaming but also as a shelter for imagining.
Relation of Bachelard’s Statement to Mike Nichol’s film The Graduate
The concept of the home or the house as “a shelter for imagining” and “a nest for dreaming” can be applied to Mike Nichols’s 1967 film The Graduate. The film follows the narrative of a young graduate who just finished college. He returns to his parents’ house, and he tries to figure out what he wants in life. The protagonist, Benjamin Braddock, is faced with uncertainties; everyone at home asks about his plans, but he has nothing figured out yet. Graduating from college trapped him in a life of aimlessness, an aspect that alienates him in his space. Focusing on the opening scene, at his graduation party, Benjamin retreats to his room. His room provided a safe space from the prying eyes of the guests and constant badgering from his parents. In this scene, his parents keep on bugging him about his plans; they encourage him to join the plastic business, and the constant praise for him (Nichols 4:03 – 5:25). The constant pestering from Mrs. Robinson and his parents forces him to escape the party and seek the security and comfort of his room. This is a space free from interference and pestering from the guests and parents.
A significant aspect of this scene is the protagonist’s room. Looking at it from the lens of Bachelard’s statement, it is arguable that Benjamin’s room is both “a nest for dreaming” and “a shelter for imagining.” As he comes home after graduating from college, he is confronted by his family’s anticipation. Everyone wants to know about his plans, his choice of career, and many other aspects. But little did they know that Benjamin was undecided. He is still coming to terms with the new reality, and for a fact, he needs a space to reflect on his future and everything else affecting him. In order to escape the nagging and the constant pestering from the family and guests in his house, Benjamin goes to his room (Nichols 7:30). In this space, he feels relaxed and able to engage in internal reflections. This is contrary to the suggestions he is confronted with, such as engaging in the plastic business. The safety, comfort, and security of his room are what provide him with the perfect environment for him to imagine or dream, as described by Bachelard. Therefore, it is arguable that the protagonist’s room acts as a nest for dreaming and also a shelter for imagining. In essence, the room provides a secure space for him to reflect on his future.
The protagonist also makes the pool a nest for dreaming or a shelter for imagining when he feels like his room is being violated. Bachelard’s statement, as described above, advocates for spaces that offer individuals security and, most importantly, a humble space for internal reflection. As an escape from the comments, ideas, and excitement of his parents and others, such as the Robinsons, Benjamin chose the safety and security of the pool. He floats the whole day, and in the evening, he gets away to an environment where he is not confronted with the usual questions. As demonstrated in the film, Benjamin spends the whole day floating in the pool (Nichols 10:32-45). The protagonist’s actions are understandable; anyone in his situation would try to escape from the interference and constant pestering from family members. Internal reflection requires personal space and a secure space where one can engage in internal reflection. In the pool, he is protected by the water, and in this space, he feels disconnected from the external environment. This is a space where he finds solace and relaxation, especially considering the external pressures. This environment acts as a backdrop for the protagonist to explore his options and consider his dreams. With respect to these ideologies, it is evident that Gaston Bachelard’s statement is reflected through the actions of the protagonist.
The Graduate. Directed by Mike Nichols, Embassy Pictures, 1967.