Study Guide

Beetlejuice Manipulation

Manipulation

Ever wonder how a ghost who can't tell people his name tricks so many people into saying that name? Betelgeuse is a master of manipulation. He's a fast-talking salesman who picks his mark and then zeros in for the kill. He's rude and crude and totally repellent, but you've got to admit that he does come seriously close to achieving all his goals by the end of the movie.

Still, it's not just Betelgeuse who's got manipulation skills. Throughout Beetlejuice, Charles and his boss will do anything to entice tourists to Winter River and spend their money, even if it means summoning the dead. Especially if it means summoning the dead: that's their sales pitch.

The genuinely nice Maitlands are no match for these folks. They just don't have what it takes to be manipulative, even if they do have shape-shifting abilities. It takes Betelgeuse's scare tactics to convince the Deetzes to accept the Maitland's terms for staying in the house.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Why do you think Betelgeuse specifically targets the Maitlands? There must be tons of innocent-looking people dying every day.
  2. How would you compare the way Charles and Delia attempt to take control of situations with the way Betelgeuse takes charge?
  3. If Betelgeuse is so awful, why doesn't the afterlife bureaucracy do something about him? At least put out a public service announcement?

Chew on This

Lydia doesn't want to help Betelgeuse, but she's totally backed into a corner. Once he has her right where he wants her, he goes in for the big ask.

Betelgeuse's scamming gets him consigned to Dante's Eighth Circle, cleverly disguised as a government-office waiting room.

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