A Literary Approach To Road To Perdition Road To Perdition Formalism

1285 words - 5 pages

In Depression-era Chicago, hit-man Michael Sullivan is known to friends and enemies alike as the Angel of Death. Uncompromising in his work, Sullivan is just as devoted to his private life as an upstanding husband and father of two young boys. But when those worlds collide, taking the lives of his wife and younger son, Sullivan and his surviving son, Michael Jr., leave their sedate home life behind and embark on a startling journey of revenge. In order to truly understand the nearly unsurpassed precedent of Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition, one must analyze the standard literary textual elements of the film. Character development, themes, and setting are the elements that play the largest part in the literary text of this film. In most films, it is character development that plays the largest literary role.Hanks inhabits a character who is drastically different from the good guy roles moviegoers have come to expect from him. In this movie, he is not a hero but an antihero. Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a professional hit man on the payroll of his surrogate father figure, Paul Newman's John Rooney. Rooney is an Irish gang lord who rules a small town somewhere outside of Chicago, and is well connected to the Capone gang. In the beginning of the movie, Sullivan attempts to maintain the pretense of an everyday life with his wife, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and his two sons, Peter and 12-year-old Michael Jr., played by Tyler Hoechlin. Michael Sullivan comes home from work every day, goes upstairs to his bedroom, removes his suit coat, slips off the pistol and shoulder holster, and returns downstairs for dinner with his family, preceded by grace. However, this display of normalcy is short lived. Less than fifteen minutes into the film, the audience is faced with how Sullivan has obtained this life. He has managed to hide the reality of how he earns a living form his two sons. In a way, he also disguises this harsh reality for himself. In the beginning of the movie, he tries to justify his profession to his son Michael by stating ". . . I love Mr. Rooney. When we had nothing, he gave us a home, a life, and we owe him." By the end of the movie, it is clear that Sullivan no can no longer justify his past decisions with this philosophy. He sees what his life has become and his last wish is that his son does not follow in his footsteps. In the closing lines of the movie, Michael testifies "I saw then that my father's only fear was that his son would follow the same road and that was the last time I ever held a gun. People always thought I grew up on a farm and I guess, in a way, I did. But I lived a lifetime before that, in those six weeks on the road in the winter of 1931. When people ask me if Michael Sullivan was a good man or if there was just no good in him at all, I always give the same answer. I just tell them he was my father." The last aspiration of Sullivan's life had been fulfilled; he had kept his son from leading the life he did. Sullivan's...

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