Why could the title of the 1989 film Glory be considered ironic?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the film Glory, the title is a perfect example of irony, a term which means the opposite of what you expect.   When someone sees or hears the word glory, the expectation is that someone or something will achieve great recognition or fame.  During war, one expectation of glory is to earn the respect of other officers or regiments, or achieve medals for bravery.  Ironically, in the film Glory, which is set during the Civil War and involves a regiment of black Union soldiers and their lieutenant, glory or rewards do not appear. The viewer of the film waits for the moment of glory that the title has lead them to expect. Instead, the audience watches the black men fight to become soldiers, fight to get shoes as white units have, and wait for a leader because to be their leader would lead to ridicule. One officer finally chooses to lead them and teach them to be soldiers.  They do become a cohesive fighting unit loyal to each other and the lieutenant who leads them.  In the end of the film, the unit is chosen to be in the front of the battle, a suicidal position. Knowing that they will die, the men bravely follow their leader into a horrific battle with no expectation of reward or glory but to die in the cause of freedom for all including slaves.  Ironically, the film ends with the word Glory printed over the dead bodies of brave black soldiers. Certainly, death is not the glory the audience was led to expect; hence, the scene and the movie's title are clearly ironic.

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