The Tramp – Charlie Chaplin

Discuss the personality traits, characteristics, mannerisms, behavior patterns, and/or attitudes of the Tramp which in your opinion made him universally appealing………………..

 

Answer:

The tramp was a famous character created and played by Charlie Chaplin in various short films in the early 20th century. He became endeared to many people, young and old alike due to his looks and antics that landed him into trouble all the time. The iconic character is believed to the inspiration for modern day clowns both for both his dressing and antics.

The tramp was a short man, always identified by his physical attributes that included a unique way of dressing and moustache. He was always dressed in a vest, a very tight fitting cut-away coat with its seams coming undone worn over a baggy pair of trousers for contrast.  He wore a small bowler hat and kept a small moustache to depict his age. His worn-out shoes were always too big for his feet and pointed upwards at the front. He also carried a bamboo cane which he never dropped regardless of the situation he was in. Due to the poor fitting clothes, he had developed a distinct walking style that showed the discomfort he was in and his toes always pointed outwards when he walked.

The tramp was featured in short films during the ‘silent era’, when films did not have matching audio recordings. The mime character of the tramp was initially as a result of the shortcomings in film industry at that time. However, he was still notably silent in the films released just after the introduction of the sound age like City Lights and Modern Times and it became a permanent feature. The fact that he remained mime in all films made him use exaggerated gestures to express himself. He also had humorous facial expression, though they still did not accurately express his feelings. This always brought out the sense of humor in the film as he tried, often to no avail, to express a situation he was in, or to ask for assistance when he was in trouble.

One of the notable characteristic of the tramp was the tendency to defy authority. He did what he believed was right and noble, even to his own risk, which often landed him in trouble (Scalia 10). His escape from the authorities led to several chases in which various humorous events occurred in the process to provide comic relief. Whenever he managed to elude the authorities, the manner in which he did landed him on the wrong side with the rest of the people.

He also strived to make up for his physical and financial shortcomings by being witty and cunning. In The Immigrant, he ate at a restaurant, only to realize a coin he had collected had fallen out of his pocket so he could not pay his bill. He then found it, retrieved it after a long struggle, only to be informed that it was fake. He resulted to stealing money that a couple had left as a tip for the waiter, and used it to pay his own bill and even left a small as a tip for the waiter.

The tramp tried so hard to be a gentleman despite his low social class. His actions were well intended though due to his inability to explain his way out of a situation, they were always misinterpreted making him appear uncultured. He had an innocent attitude and did not take offence even when people ignored him. He also did not recognize insults nor acknowledge his weakness, and always tried to maintain his dignity.

The tramp was a believer in romance and had a charming character that appealed to girls. In each film he tried to win a girl with his charm, wit and kindness since he both was physically challenged and lacked money. Then circumstances played in his favor and he managed to win the girl’s affection, thought in most cases it did not last. This did not dampen his spirit nor stop him from pursuing another girl in a subsequent film.

The tramp was also in many events, just a victim of circumstance. He picked up a red flag in Modern Times and fellow factory workers followed him making him the leader of a factory riot which got him arrested. While in the cell he mistook cocaine for salt and sniffed it, strayed from his cell and in the process, knocked out a convict who was attempting to escape. This made him a hero and got him released though he preferred to remain in the cell since life had become too hard for him.

Though he was, for the most part, a warm and kind character, the tramp also had a naughty side that often saw him kicking people in their rear end and throwing bricks at them to the amusement of his fans. He did this only to people he considered his enemies and it was his own way of settling his scores and was never apologetic to his victims.

The combination of all the naughty deeds, innocence, charm and style made him become adored by fans and earned him his iconic status.

 

Works Cited

Scalia, Bill R. American Transcendental Vision: Emerson to Chaplin May 2002, Print

 

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