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The Little Tramp in the 1920s

Summer Murphy
Mrs. Baker
Literature Analysis
April 9, 2014

Murphy 1
Summer Murphy
Mrs. Baker
Literature Analysis
April 9, 2014
The Little Tramp in the 1920s
Charlie Chaplin put color into everyones life, despite the fact that all of his films were in
black-and-white. This man changed entertainment as a whole with his unique filmmaking
techniques. Chaplin directed, wrote, and starred in the most popular comedic films of the 1920s,
and inspired other actors and filmmakers. The silent era, although not so silent in the audience,
began to sky-rocket as Chaplin rose to fame. In the 1920s, Charlie Chaplin was divergent, greatly
influential in his time, and took part in many distinct and unique films.
Charlie Chaplin was born into a poor family that was drastically different from the
everyday families in the 1920s. His mother, although a talented singer, spent most of her life in
mental hospitals, and his father was a vaudevillian with a drinking problem. In Chaplins teenage
years, he left school, and by the age of 19, was one of the most popular music-hall performers in
England. Chaplin surprised many outsiders by doing so, mainly due to the fact that he could
barely read and write when he dropped out (Schwartz). According to history writer Shelly
Schwartz, During Charlie Chaplins theatrical apprenticeship in British music halls with The
Eight Lancashire Lads, Chaplin memorized his dance steps to precision. From the wings, he
watched the other performers, especially the pantomimes in over-sized shoes outwitting comic
policeman (Schwartz). This is where Chaplin acquired the idea of pantomiming and silent films.
In addition, Chaplin was only 55 and had a Cockney accent, which made it very difficult for

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him to earn a lead role in plays. Also, he later found he had stage fright. These aspects made
Chaplin very different from many other Hollywood actors, film-makers, or directors.
Charlie Chaplins unique approaches to film-making and directing shocked many who
were involved in the business. Not only were they unforeseen, but they were very influential.
The film actor, director, and writer Charles Chaplin was a one-of-a-kind figure in the history of
films. No one could ever quite compare to him and his abilities to influence others.
(Encyclopedia 1). Chaplin was the first to introduce silent film-making to Hollywood. After he
began to not only star in, but write and direct silent films, the silent-era sprouted. He was
notable for his time because, In all his work, Chaplin consistently displayed emotional
expressiveness, physical grace, and intellectual vision characteristic of the finest actors. The
classical austerity and deceptive simplicity of his directorial stylehas not been surpassed
(Encyclopedia 2). This man changed the face of entertainment incomparably, and in a way that
he made seem manageable to anyone. In fact, Charlie Chaplins, incalculable effect in making
motion pictures the art form of the century (Smith 2), affected how people in the 1920s lived on
a daily basis. His more appealing and entertaining approach to films motivated people to get out
and watch films at cinemas. Chaplin livened society and created a chain-reaction of directors and
writers to incorporate his original techniques into their works.
Charlie Chaplins films were quite contrary to many of the ordinary films of the 1920s.
He liked to incorporate aspects of his early life into his works. For example, in a show called
Repairs, Chaplin used the memories of his mothers mimicking antics and his fathers drunken
mishaps to form his own comical character (Schwartz). Furthermore, he frequently incorporated
drunken, clumsy, non-ideal characters into his storylines. In many of his films, the reappearing
character of the Tramp was sympathetic and comical, dressed in clothes that did not fit, and

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had a trademark mustache (Encyclopedia 1). The Tramp was a rather diverse character; he
could have several different personalities and attributes because Chaplin always had ideas.
Compared to other famous films in the era, Chaplins films were sporadic in the way he acted in
or directed them. His slapstick approach and unique characters made his films project compared
to others.
As stated by Leonard Maltin, A minor Chaplin is still leagues ahead of major works by
so many others. And what is more, a major Chaplin is about as good as any motion picture has
a right to be (Maltin 10). Chaplin changed entertainment as a whole in the 1920s and many
more eras that followed. His famous works are still known around the world today, due to his
greatly influential techniques. Not only was he a silent-era star, but Chaplin also changed the
face of the motion picture. He was unique, and his films were even more. Chaplin was
incomparable to any other figure in the entertainment industries, and will continue to prevail in
the future.