Week three blog assignment

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times demonstrates great use of repetition, unity and a great deal of expectations being met or not met at all.

Throughout the film Charlie perpetually fails at any job he obtains. The film starts by demonstrating Charlie as a employee in an assembly line in a factory twisting screws. This motion of twisting becomes extremely repetitive when Charlie starts twisting anything remotely close to the size of the tools he uses (i.e buttons, a fire hydrant, etc). However, the main source of repetition in the film is the failure of Charlie to obtain a steady job due to his very quirky and clumsy behavior.

Later on in the film Charlie meets a young lady who he decides to help with the intention in returning to jail (ironically where he feels comfortable and safe). Here the audience expects the sense  that Charlie and this women will end up together finally in a nice home with steady jobs. As the film unfolds there is various occurences where they become stable both as members of society and once again fail to fit in.

Towards the end of the film Charlie appears to be an amazing entertainer along with his partner who stars as the lead dancer. Once Charlie is offered a steady position as a singer, his partner has been search and found by the police which cause Charlie to once again have to run away in order to save his partner. There this sense of disunity comes into play where the audience thinks what would’ve happened if both would’ve worked, save money, bought a home and had the life they somewhat live in the store that Charlie worked as a night watchmen.


However, unity comes back as they both stay together and continue to fight through modern times. Therefore this recurring failure motif can be symtomatic in the sense that at the end what is more important? For them to stay together and continue through the struggles together or become stable as an individual at the cost of losing one another?


4 thoughts on “Week three blog assignment

  1. The use of repetition within Modern Times is simply beautiful. We as an audience carry this sorry hope for the couple to be happy together and to finally own a house. But after each prison sentence or daring evasion, our expectations are unfulfilled allowing the plot and suspense to build. We want the main characters to break from the mold and to excel from the precedent which they have set. We want them to break out of the repetitive lifestyle they find themselves in, but in the end they find happiness in each other.
    This representation of a couple enduring hard times was not a unique story through out the 1930’s as the great depression ravaged the lives of many economically and mentally, but as the little tramp did so well: He kept a smile on his face, and kept stumbling on.
    This story was a testament to the working man struggling to find work, or to the couple that wants to start a family but does not have the physical means to do so. The moral that can be conceived is to keep trudging on no matter how rough life presents it’s self and to smile through it.

  2. Prior to reading your blog post, I did not really think about Chaplin’s Modern Times playing off of unity and disunity. However, these certainly do play a major role throughout the entire film. One second he has his life figured out and the next second his life is in shambles. Chaplin is in and out of the work force, jail, and his relationship with the young lady. Chaplin is constantly attempting to find his niche, becoming a part of society. At the beginning of the movie it appeared as if he was pretty settled at the factory where he worked twisting screws in the assembly line. Even with a job as simple as that Chaplin managed to get himself into trouble. Once he got comfortable and made himself at home in jail he was let out. Then when his significant other and himself were finally going to start making money and living the life they had only dreamt of, she was nearly arrested. Fortunately for Chaplin, he found a sense of unity with the young lady as they walked into the horizon as a happy couple at last.

  3. Charlie Chaplin did a phenomenal job playing off his motif of failing to find a steady job in a lighthearted way, in my opinion. He easily turned a serious problem into a joke with the help of repetition as you said. Whether in the factory, or jail, or the restaurant, Chaplin finds himself getting into trouble; more often than not, starting off socially acceptable and then ending up getting chased by the police. Chaplin seems to be making the best effort possible to be helpful, or at least low-key, but people such as his co-workers or other inmates ruin any chances of letting Chaplin doing things right. To offset his bad luck, Chaplin provides variation in form by finding true love. His girlfriend is not such a far-fetched additive feature to the movie, because she has suffered from bad luck as well, which provides unity to his lack of success. The repetition of the motif comes back into the picture when he struggles to make enough money to to put food on the table for his girlfriend and himself. The way Chaplin weaves together his failure to be accepted by the majority and his success with the girl is more than meets the eye in a slap-stick related comedy.

  4. Modern Times really does play with your expectations! From the beginning, you are rooting for Chaplin to obtain some kind of steady position in life. He fumbles around at his work and even wants to stay in jail after being taken there! You are brought to think one thing, but instead the film goes the other direction. The repetition of irony, disunity, and other elements makes the film a comedy that can definitely be defined as one of the best.

    I had noticed the repetition of irony like you have. There is the repetition of irony, which stands out the most. It could be directed at the “modern times”, which was the Great Depression and the end of silent films for Chaplin. The occurrences of the irony include the man in jail that sews, and the shack that they call paradise. The ending was unsure, which seems to represent the situation Chaplin is facing.

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