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Maude says to Harold, "A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. Theyre just backing away from life. 'Reach' out take a 'chance' Get 'hurt' even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room." Maude is a life loving, seventy-nine year old, woman who teaches a death obsessed, teenage, boy to think about life.
Maude, who briefly shows her concentration number, on her arm, must know about death. The entire movie is about rebirth. From, the wooden vagina in Maude's living room or the tree that was saved and planted in the wilderness. The two met at a funeral when she kept trying to get his attention in the church. During the first funeral scene in the church, Maude says: "...at 85 you're just marking time." It is said that the marching band that is going by at the funeral was marking time as well.
Harold is a dark sort with an obsession for death. Driving around a hearse and attending the funeral of those who he did not even know. Harold sets up prank suicides to see the look on his mothers face. He wants to see the same reaction that was received when an accident occurred at school and the news of his death reached his mother. With his mother tired of the shenanigans and pranks she finally tells Harold that it is time for him to become an adult. She signs him up for a computer dating service. She eventually tries to force him to join the Army. Maude saves him from this dilemma as well.
On the other hand, Maude is full of life and inspiration. As mentioned before she had a carved wooden vagina set up in her living room. She advised Harold to touch it and feel the smoothness of the wood. He tries to put his head through it and portrays the birth of man or rebirth in this case. Several times Maude has borrowed a vehicle that did not belong to her. The first was a priest's car at a funeral. The second was Harold's hearse. The third was a truck while saving a tree with Harold. A cop attempts to stop Maude, however; she thinks that he is playing a game, so she tricks him into pulling over and then takes off on him. After, planting the tree and on the way home, they see the cop again and she honks at him. She was simply looking for a game; she wanted to have a little more fun. Once, the cop gets her pulled over and he is asking about the tree, Maude jumps on his bike and takes off with Harold and the shovel. Maude loves to take chances, but more than that she loves to live.
Throughout the entire film Harold's character changes and he falls in love with Maude. The time frame of the film was short, but many things happened, changing Harold's life forever. The older woman who he wishes was what he grew up knowing. The sort of person he looked up to and enjoyed spending time with. His own, mother is too interested in her class in society. Harold's mother is a high class citizen with money. She said to Harold, after the purchase of the hearse, that he can have any car he wanted. She bought him a very nice sports car and he remodeled it to resemble a hearse. Harold's lifestyle reminds me of what we call "Goth." She pays no attention to his needs or lifestyle. While filling out the questionnaire for the dating site, she answers the questions instead of Harold answering. Meanwhile Harold is pointing a gun at her and then turns it on himself. During all the calling of the woman he performs a suicide or trick and scares all but one off, she picks up the very same knife and stabs herself as well. This last caller would probably be a good match, had he not fallen in love with Maude.
Maude asks Harold what flower he would like to be. Harold tells Maude that he wishes he could "be a daisy because they're all alike." Maude says, "Oh, but they're not. If you look carefully, some are bigger, some smaller, some lean to the left, some to the right. She is showing Harold that everyone is in fact different and can choose their path, much like the flower.
As stated before Harold's mother wanted him to see his uncle, and join the military. Maude helps him escape that fate when she poses as a crazy lady and Harold pretends to beat her and she falls down a shoot. His uncle has somehow lost his arm and has it rigged to salute by pulling a cord. Harold's mother silently admitting defeat did not mention the military life again.
Finally, Maude gives her farewell to life in what was truly the best scene. Maude reaches her eightieth birthday, and Harold asks her to marry him, only to find out that she had taken poison. It appears that the true meaning here is that Maude was preparing Harold to live life to the fullest and not pressed under deaths finger. Harold while rushing her to the hospital decides to live and live well in her memory. The speeding car, making sharp turns through the country side and racing to the edge of the cliff; the hearse driving off the side of the cliff and dancing while playing the banjo demonstrates, Harold, giving his own farewell, to death while embracing life.