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The Alienation Theory in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times tells the story of a factory worker, Tramp. During his time

there, he faces with lots of difficulties. Later on he finds himself in other difficulties and

misunderstandings and he ends up in prison. He is in prison because he takes the blame of a guilt

made by Gamin. After his release he and Gamin meet again and they are seen walking down a road

together. Even if do not like silence comedies that much, I have to accept that this movie has good

arguments and effects. One of the most important point in this movie is what Tramp experiences in

factory. He and his coworkers do not really questions what they are doing or why they do it. At the

end they become like the machines that they work on. They are working but they do not have the

spirit. This is a good example of Karl Marx’s “Alienation” theory. Marx argues that capitalism

makes labor class work for hours and hours like a machine for a product that they cannot even

afford to buy and it is against to human nature. In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote his

famous line “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Working Men of All Countries, Unite!” (Marx et al. 102). The ending of the movie is an open

ending which means that anyone can interpret it as they want. Considering that, It can be said

Tramp and Gamin united and lost their chains and returned back to their human nature to become

themselves and fight against to what capitalism brings to them.

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Works Cited

Chaplin, Charlie, director. Modern Times. United Artists, 1936.

Marx, Karl, et al. The Communist Manifesto. Yale University Press, 2012. Rethinking the Western

Tradition. EBSCOhost,


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