Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film Essay

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¶ … totality of the experience of reading and watching these works, and given that crime in some form lies at the heart of each story, what do these works tell us, explicitly or implicitly, about human nature?

"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby is a wealthy man with lots of material belongings. He often throws parties extravagantly. The character lacks the ability accord himself such lavishness. He lacks self-love and has pushed himself to engage in crime- just to attain material success. The motivation for his behavior is his long time love; Daisy Buchanan. Unfortunately, Gatsby derives power from illegal sources. There is a distinct difference between Gatsby and other criminals; despite his surface flaws. He stands out above a mere bootlegger. Gatsby is a businessman with a normal attitude. He controls his business and keeps a balance on his youthful ambitions. This is in contrast with what criminals typically do; the tendency to engage in violence and careless acts. When Gatsby is caught on the scene of crime that involves a car accident and leads to chaos, he tries to evade implication with a legible excuse. Such denial only raises suspicions that he is attempting to cover his involvement in the incident that ensued- the bloody accident. All the owl-eyed man does is to subvert the law by avoiding any accusation. He does not consider anything else (Cabin).

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Gatsby's honorable public image makes him worth being called great. He exudes a majestic demeanor and stands above the crowd. In comparison, the gangsters are sheer careless bulldogs, Daisy, a careless rose while the visitors are deemed careless hypes. It's only Gatsby that has such remarkable hope and the inclination to determine his future (Chastain, 2014).

The inherent contrast between Gatsby and the foul demeanor of the gangsters makes him worth being called great as opposed to the traditional criteria of principles of morality (Cabin).

Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay on Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film Assignment

The label, Young, in the reference means that Young Goodman Brown is an immature young man. Goodman only views humans from one perspective, the good side. We know that humans posses both positive and negative aspects. Goodman's ancestors; Deacon Gookin, Faith and Goody Cloyse are good examples. These characters saw both sides of human nature yet Goodman does not understand; thanks to his immaturity. When the terms, Goodman and young are applied as adjectives that describe " Brown," they describe an immature young man. Brown is presented as someone who does not understand life. There are two meanings to his name. There is the symbolic and the literal meaning. Literally, Young Goodman Brown is a good young man of a Puritan religious disposition. Goodman thinks that Puritans are not without fault. He is innocent and uncorrupt because he is young. In his innocence, he believes that members of his family are Puritans that the townspeople are great Christians and his love, Faith, is faithful. Hawthorne uses various symbols in Young Goodman Brown to represent human nature. He employs characters, an object and settings. Human nature has good and evil aspects. No one has a monopoly of good or, indeed, even bad. If humans accepted this truth, there is a good chance of living happily. The bible cites the first act of sin by Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit. Consequently, humans are sinful by nature. According to Hawthorne, the world is filled with evil spirits. Demons are everywhere in the day and in the night.

Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad

At the beginning of the 20th B C, when exploitation by way of setting up colonies and abuse of natural resources, including the natives, land and minerals was the norm, Heart of Darkness stirs to an awakening by raising the question of when exactly expansion turns into rape. Joseph Conrad is the brain behind this timeless novel. The inherent nature of human tendencies is exposed in the book as the pretences and savagery are shown on fertile grounds that facilitate their continuation (Berezowski).

A blend of climate, greed and the undesirable effects of life on the frontier exposed the worst attributes in people. They stole ivory from native people, and raped land. They treated the locals worse than slaves. Slaves were regarded as an expensive item in the U.S.; slave owners tried to keep them well and fed them. In contrast, the locals in the story highlighted were subjected to inhuman conditions, tortured and starved to death when they fell sick (Berezowski). The imperialists committed untold atrocities behind the veil of expansionists and progress. This was not different from the treatment of Native American people in their own land. There is still hope, though, at a time when the term racism was not even regarded as bad practice and savagery was only a life reality. There is a clear change happening in Marlow's view of the natives. He longs for his helmsman whom he referred to as improved specimen and one that watched over the boat's steam boiler and got killed by the spear of Kurtz's follower. He thinks of the man as an equal and even surprises himself in the course of such thoughts (Berezowski).

'The Purloined Letter,' by Edgar Allan Poe

The youthful French private detective by the name Dupin is the protagonist in "The Purloined Letter" and although he comes from a wealthy background, he has lost most of his wealth on women and poker. He is a ruthless gangster on one hand, and a bumbling cop on the other. The once uniformed gallant detective made people coin the thought and expression that a policeman and crime are only two sides of the same coin. White the detective is the whole coin; he can be the cop or the criminal; it all depends on how he woke up or slept the previous night. It is clear that Dupin has the potential of becoming a very successful criminal. The similarity between his purloining and Dupin's purloining are not subtle. He is on the Queen's side', but again, he isn't, since he loves justice, saying the truth and the way of the French. Apparently, there are four main motivations for Dupin. He has the love for money, loyalty to the royal lady, revenge and the yearning to show off. He loves trailing the detectives and outdoing Dupin in his wit, even as he cares about the execution of justice (The Purloined Letter).

The Public Enemy (1931)

Shortly after the introduction of sound, there were rumbling sounds of machine guns, the screeching of vehicle tyres, and raving engines around the corners of town streets, coming from motion picture screens. There was string of gangster films that all embraced this idea. One of the movies that came with such antics is Swarm of Hornets (Cagny). There has always been a question as to whether the big rush of movies on crime and the circles of gangsters and racketeers; a conspicuous show in American film culture would have come in the magnitude and impact in the 30s, without the element of sound. The propulsion and shock that these films came up with were triggered by the prospect of one yearning for an opportunity to fill their ears with and the tough guy's effect, their lingua and snarls (Cagny).

There was also the coincidence of two significant social patterns. There was an exponential increase in organised crime in the country in the 20s, as a result of the prohibitions of the law. There was also a motivation in the selling of illicit liquor. St. Valentine's Day Massacre in the city of Chicago in 1929 marked the climax of the crime trends in the U.S. The incident involved a horrifying murder ordeal in which members of one crime group were lined up against a wall and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film.  (2016, February 29).  Retrieved October 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film."  29 February 2016.  Web.  31 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Analyzing Crime in Literature and Film."  February 29, 2016.  Accessed October 31, 2020.