(Sir) Charles (Spencer) Chaplin Northrop Frye - Essay

Northrop Frye

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Since Mark Twain, no anarchist of the full nineteenth-century size has emerged except Charlie Chaplin. But the hero of the Chaplin films, with his quixotic gallantry and courtesy, his pity for the weak, his apologetic and ridiculous isolation from society and the amount of damage he does against his own very good will to that society makes this Yankee cussedness an ideal worthy of respect. For all its plethora of revolutionary symbols, Modern Times is not a socialist picture but an anarchist one: an allegory of the impartial destructiveness of humor…. We are left with a feeling that the man who is really part of his social group is only half a man, and we are taken back to the primitive belief, far older than...

(The entire section is 410 words.)