Discuss the the play of polarities in the movie, Schindler's List?Discuss the the play of polarities in the movie, Schindler's List?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my mind, the most dominant polarities in the film would exist between good and evil in the forms of Schindler and Goeth.  The interesting element to this portrayal is that both men are not necessarily that different from one another.   In the exposition of the film, both men are depicted as being very similar to one another.  The polarities or lines between good and evil seem to be very close to one another.  The shaving scene is an excellent example of this, as on the morning of the liquidation of the ghetto, both are shown to be doing the exact same thing.  The film shows that both struggle with issues of good and evil, moral conscience and issues that negate it.  In the end, both are precariously close to one another.  If Schindler ignores the cries of others' suffering, he becomes a representation of evil.  If Goeth would listen to one cry, he could become good.  In the end, both men end up representing the polarities of good and evil.  However, there is a point where both are shown to be close to going the opposite way.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You could also say there is a polarity between Schindler (as well as others like him) and the Nazis.  There were many people who helped the Jews escape persecution.  Schindler is a wonderful example of these people.  He realized that what the Nazis were doing was wrong.  On the other hand, the Nazis believed just as strongly that what they were doing was right.  Schindler saw the injustice or persecuting a people because of their race or religion.  He saw innocent people being subjected to unimaginable horrors and he tried to help as much as he could.  The Nazis saw a group of people that they felt needed to be exterminated.  There is a distinct polarity between these two ideas, especially with regards to the injustice of it all.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is the obvious polarity--Nazis vs. Jews.  The Nazis, as a whole, are representative of the evil in the world as they follow the orders (some happily, some not so willingly) of their leader, Hitler.  The Jews, representative of all that is innocent and good, but sorely abused, in the world.

Of course, there are shining spots of good within the Nazi party--those gems who shine in the midst of the horror and cruelty that surrounds them.  Schindler is one of those gems, although he must be careful not to shine too brightly, lest he also be imprisoned and made incapable of helping anyone.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of polar opposite characters can be found in Shindler, someone who knows himself very well but plays a role in society, and Goeth, played by Ralph Fiennes. In Goeth we have a character who does not understand himself but and who is incapable of carrying on a ruse.

Both characters are complex, but they are completely opposite when it comes to self-knowledge and self-control.

Of course, there we also see the obvious merciful/vindicitive polar positions these characters occupy in the film as an example of contrast.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The thing that I remember most about this film is the polarity between those that survived and those that died. I remember very clearly the final scene of the survivors placing stones on the gravestone of Schindler, forming the outline of a cross that acted as a kind of recognition of thanks to the sacrifice that Schindler made and the risks that he ran. However, at the same time, as the film reminds us, Schindler was only able to save a few Jews compared to the vast number that perished.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How about the polarity between Schindler himself, who created and maintained an enamelware factory to make as much money as possible, and used Jews as laborers because Jewish workers were cheaper than Poles.  Contrast that attitude of simple greed with Stern, his accountant, who uses every privilege he has in his position to save as many Jews as possible, and eventually convinces Schindler that it's the right thing to do.  I think it's the key polarity in the story.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I laughed when I read post 6, because my first sentence was going to be: The greatest polarity is Shindler himself.  I never really understood Schinlder.  He is a paradox.  He is not clearly either a good guy or a bad guy.