Web of Confusion

Elizabeth-Burton Jones
CCTP – 748

“Web of Confusion”

Sir Walter Scott once wrote “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”. The meanings and messages become congealed. Signals are crossed and the validity of communication is ever changed. This week’s topic of semiotics was an introduction to different angles of previous personal academic studies. To exemplify my questions from this week, I would like to look at the movie “An Education”, “He’s Just Not That Into You”, and the absurdist play “Waiting for Gordot” .

The Movie “An Education” follows the story of a young girl that is at a crossroads between education and love. She can either choose the “logical” higher educational path or follow a considerably older conniving lover wherever he goes and give up the socially constructed educational ideal.

The choice seems simple. However, there are different twists and turns that shape the tumultuous love’s path. We can observe the movie “An Education” through the lens of semiotics, by studying the fractured semiotic state.

First, we must question the characters. The young female character, is a seemingly innocent teenager that has a promising future. She is set on the path to Oxford. However, she meets this dashing man and becomes mesmerized. She’s taken aback by his charm and edgy lifestyle. She trusts him. But why?


The answer is because of his ability to command communication. The best example of this is the transitional relationship between the father and the boyfriend. At first the father did not like the notion of her daughter dating an older man. However, the man was very good at controlling the situations. He would often lie.

The notion of semiotics is seemingly changed by the conniving boyfriend. He makes me question the validity of semiotics if they can be manipulated.


I think this song called “You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” is a good example of how the power of meaning and how we portray the meaning of being completely surrounded by a lie disguised as love.

Another good example would be the movie “He’s Just Not that Into You”


This movie is filled with double meanings. The main character, Gigi, believes that every look and every pause that a guy makes is a sign of his unending love for her. I think this is another way of looking at the meaning behind the message.

The whole world of dating is a world full of personal interpretations that are often skewed by a person’s journey.

 Another question of meaning comes from the absurdist play, “Waiting for Gordot”. I had to study this play and I remember feeling very confused by the language and the wonderful acting. In the end, there were a plethora of opportunities to interpret the meaning of the play.


Finally, music has all types of confusion twisting However, I really liked the ideas about signs and meanings. I would like to know how to decode all of the signs in this music video:


Mieke Bal, “Semiotics for Beginners,” from Mieke Bal, On Meaning-Making: Essays in Semiotics. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1994.



Irvine, “Introduction to Meaning Making, Symbolic Cognition, and Semiotics” (begin here)
Read sections 1-4 of this book chapter in progress. We will use later sections next week.