The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger A Critical Response
The Devil Wears Prada - A Critical Review
Lauren Weisberger’s “The Devil Wears Prada” is developed around a theme which is mentioned several times throughout the book. The main theme is that the central character/narrator, Andrea Sachs, has landed the job that “a million girls would die for.” The conflict is that the job that “a million girls would die for” turns out (in Andrea’s point of view) to be a nightmare job.
The plot is cleverly based on “dangling-the-carrot-in-front-of-the-horse” where the reader, along with Andrea, is continuously anticipating Andrea’s recommendation and landing a dream job after one year of servitude with Miranda. Weisberger creatively shows how this dream affects the relationships between Andrea and other characters that are important in Andrea’s life. Trying to live up to the expectations of the snooty people within the environment of the fashion magazine adds to the stress of trying to be successful on the job.
There is a second underlying theme that is a little less obvious but which has an effect on the culture within the magazine and how Andrea feels and reacts. Andrea and her family are Jewish but the fact isn’t significantly brought out. It is mentioned that instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, Andrea’s mother orders in bagels, latke and lox. While the reader might think it is an unusual meal for Thanksgiving, it might not immediately register that the reason for the type of food is that they are Jewish. People order take-out food from many cultures, so because there is such insignificant reference to their being Jewish, it just might not be immediately realized. The reader might have an ‘Aha!” moment when making the connection to other inferences from the story.
Development of Andrea’s character is done in such a way that she (Andrea) is believable and the reader can relate to her as well as feel sorry for her. Right from the first page, Andrea is having a stressful day which the reader can relate to. She is fighting traffic and driving a stick shift. The reader may, later in the book, feel a little embarrassed upon realizing that she has been empathizing with a character that actually turns out to be self-centered.
Miranda is the “boss from hell” whose character is quickly developed so that the reader has a reason, right away, to fall into the trap of being empathetic toward Andrea. Who hasn’t had a boss like Miranda? Miranda is so awful that even when she is out of the country (for a major part of the beginning of the book), she is still a strong force to be reckoned with. The author skillfully makes this happen through the other characters who are Andrea’s unsympathetic co-workers; especially Emily whom the author uses to emphasize Miranda’s painful, demanding, un-sympathetic personality which causes the reader to empathize with Andrea. Because of the author’s use of Emily’s recounting of Miranda’s personality and demands, as well as her warnings, the reader tends to forgive Andrea for her shortcomings and understands when Andrea begins to rebel in any little way she can.
Andrea’s parents, boyfriend, and best friend are used as understanding, patient, and sympathetic supporters for Andrea. Their feelings and needs are repeatedly pushed aside until, eventually, their patience wears off; and, through Andrea’s best friend and boyfriend, the author shows the reader that Andrea is actually not merely a victim of her circumstances, but is truly self-absorbed and a martyr.
The majority of the setting is placed within the confines of the building wherein Andrea is employed. The author uses different aspects related to these confines as further thorns in Andrea’s sides. The author’s use of the guard right inside the main door who frustrates Andrea before she can even proceed to her office is imaginative. At the end of the story, by having the guard tease Andrea’s replacement, the author shows that the guard’s teasing was not a personal attack on Andrea; but, it was something he took pleasure in doing. This makes the reader wonder if this is to be a lesson about not taking oneself so seriously, or to slow down and have time for a little humor. The reader may learn that, in the corporate world, people are faceless and easily replaceable.
The author captures the minute details of clothing and accessories as being more thorns in Andrea’s side. It seems that even the way she dresses is not good enough for Miranda or her co-workers and furthers Andrea’s need for self-pity. The use of real-life current designers and big names associated with fashion supports the believability of the story.
The female point of view makes the sometimes outlandish story believable. Weisberger is able to make the reader feel how it must be to be judged by the critical eyes and snobbery of the “fashionista” characters within the magazine’s atmosphere. The “bitch” factor suffered by working for a self-centered, uncaring female boss is well-captured by the female writer’s point of view – as dictated through the main character’s narration. She also articulates the stress of trying to juggle the extreme demands of a female trying to create a successful career while satisfying an unrelenting boss, as well as meeting the needs of family, other loved ones, and oneself.
Lauren Weiseberger’s theme of the “job that a million girls would die for” is obviously fictitious because nobody would suffer all the things that Andrea suffers . . . right down to the taunting doorman; however, it makes for a story that is believable enough to be a fun and interesting book to read . . . fun enough to have made a popular movie!