Study Guide

Beetlejuice Family

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The running family gag in Beetlejuice is that the dead Adam and Barbara seem to be more loving parental units than Lydia's living ones. They take her seriously and care about her, while the Deetzes are too wrapped up in their own social pretensions and commercial projects to pay much attention. Delia Deetz thinks that Lydia's brooding and alienation are just grabs for attention. Can't blame Lydia—she doesn't get much.

The Deetzes are caricatures of some typical real-life family dynamics: the misunderstood teenager who sees her parents as total phonies; parents who have had it with their teen's apathy and sarcasm; husbands and wives who just tolerate each other's interests while thinking they're ridiculous. Add a dose or two of the supernatural, and things escalate to major family conflict.

Questions About Family

  1. Why does Charles insist on saying that Delia is Lydia's "mother?" What do you think happened to Lydia's biological mother? Does that shed any light into Lydia's morbid character?
  2. How would you describe the relationship between Charles and Delia? How about Charles and Lydia?
  3. Jane is just devastated by her relatives' deaths. How long do you think she waited before putting their house up for sale? An hour?

Chew on This

Lydia's total alienation and disgust with her Dad and Delia show that she's tried to relate to them and failed zillions of time. They're hopeless.

Lydia is probably not the easiest person in the world to live with.

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