City Lights

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Natalie Dougherty
ENGL 102-013
Dr. Leitch
Feb. 18, 2009
Thematic Meaning in City Lights

In order for art to be successful, despite the category of its expression, one thing is necessary; a connection between the piece and its audience that can transcend time and space. If a song, film, poem, novel, play or painting possesses the ability to touch audiences of any era or culture, then it is truly successful. Notable movements of artwork are associated with the time in which they were produced. For example, rock and roll music is associated with the 1960s and the 1970s; impressionist painting with the late 1800s; romantic poetry with the late 1700s to early 1800s; film noir with the 1940s to 1950s. Although all of these movements can be uniquely defined, they all have one thing in common; the artwork represented by each movement has the ability to reach any audience, regardless of time or place, because of its timeless thematic content. The thematic content of a piece of art represents its meaning, and the meaning behind successful art is often associated with an eternal truth of humanity. Charlie Chaplin’s film, City Lights, is a successful piece of art because its thematic content reveals a truth of life which transcends time and space: things are not always what they seem to be.

Charlie Chaplin’s film, City Lights, shows its audience that things are not always what they seem to be in several ways. First off, the film uses comedy to lightly send this message to its audience. The tramp and the other characters of the film are placed in situations in which what they think is happening is not. The tramp accidentally eats some confetti, when he thinks he is eating spaghetti. The tramp mistakes a bald man’s head for an appetizer at the millionaire’s party. The tramp replaces a man’s lunch with a similar looking bar of soap, which the man then eats. A bum is confused after a seemingly rich man knocks him over for the butt of another man’s cigar. By using...
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