Recently my team and I have been examining the film, “Unforgiven” starring Clint Eastwood. This Western has given me some interesting insight into the iconography of the Western genre and some interesting pieces of character development. My group allowed me to analyse the characters, ‘Strawberry Alice,’ ‘Delilah’ and the other Prostitutes through out the film.
The women show some innocence even though they are prostitutes. Delilah could be considered the most innocent throughout the entire film. This is especially clear when Strawberry Alice was explaining why the cowboy cut up her face she said that Delilah “giggled,” at his, “little pecker.” When you think of a girl giggling you think of a young girl which conveys a sense of gentleness and naivety to Delilah’s character. Another way in which the film shows she could be innocent is how she thinks that Munny’s wife still lives until it is explained to her.
After Delilah’s face has been cut, Alice said that the sheriff should have whipped the man responsible. Then when the sheriff beats up Munny for having a gun even though Munny has done no wrong, she says, “You just beat up a innocent man.” At this point in the film the sheriff had no idea who Munny was and just beat him up because he had a gun and refused to hand it over.
The girls fit into the stereotypes shown in Voglers, ‘The Hero’s Journey,’ because Delilah is basically the damsel in distress or ‘The Maiden’ who is in need of rescuing and aid from a male protagonist. Munny and his friends come to kill the cowboys who hurt her to fulfil this role.
Thus following the usual story line out lined in, ‘The Hero’s Journey.’ Showing the call to adventure and the completing of the quest.
In a way this film is like traditional western films because it’s all about getting justice for women and protecting them from the men who have wronged them or wish them harm. The women, like older westerns, need a man to take justice for them. But, I also do believe that in this film, there is some power in the women’s roles because they stand up for themselves and demand that they receive justice and compensation. They didn’t accept the ponies, this could have been because they knew they were better than that and would not just be bought off with some ponies, and that they deserved more than what the men offered.
This quest for justice by Alice and the other prostitutes is like the quest for the ‘Holy Grail’ in the way in which they are ultimately seeking their hearts desire. Usually once this type of quest is completed however it turns out what they strove to gain was not worth the journey and the character can become disillusioned and finds flaws in all aspects of their life there after.