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Charlie Chaplin Essay

1437 words - 6 pages



Sir Charles Chaplin’s speech from the 1940 motion picture called The Great Dictator was extremely hard-hitting and inspirational. It did very well to get the message across. His speech was a cry for help on behalf of many civilians, demanding a much needed change in the world back in the 1940s. He briefly touched on the intensity of the problem and what it could become in the future if no action would be taken. In doing so, he maintained respect with the audience; rather than talking down to them, he put himself onto their level without being too familiar. Very boldly, Chaplin effectively expressed to the people that it is our responsibility as humans to make the world a better place because its fate is determined by our influence.

Right off the bat, Chaplin conveys his humility. In his speech, he makes it clear that he was not trying to be a dictator, such as Hitler. Rather, he wanted to show that he was just like them, a plain man who desired change in the world. Through his speech, it is apparent that Chaplin is the mediator, but not in a high place. His first two words, quietly uttered, are, “I’m sorry,…”(The Great Dictator 1940). As opposed to a president trying to win an election, saying these two words at the very beginning of a speech immediately bring Chaplin to the people’s level, even though he is the speaker and the demander of peace. I found this very effective because it is refreshing for me to see humility in such a powerful speech. It does not show that he wants to be worshipped. These two words immediately give him respect because it shows remorse, and in turn, the people will be more open to his words. It comforted me to see that he was not arrogant. He later goes on to say, “I should like to help everyone, if that’s possible, Jew, Gentile, Black man, White.” (1940). He could have stopped at “everyone”, but his mention of these few races, brought him down onto a another unique level with the people. This use of specific word choice was extremely effective. Through this, his concern for every single human being is exemplified. As a speaker, it was important for him to be plain with the audience, and in his case, it was done with a great amount of humility. This got through to me because anyone can simply talk about “anyone” in his or her speech, but it takes a heartfelt person to reach their audience on an almost personal level, just by mentioning the race.


Secondly, after achieving the audience’s respect, Chaplin proceeds to maintain a distance from them, in spite of already putting himself on their level. He tries not to be too familiar with the audience; after all, he was still the speaker on the podium. Basically, he strategically said “us”, “we”, and “our” in certain places. In other places, he says “you”, “everyone”, and so on. For example, he tells the audience: “You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people...

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