Citizen Kane

Lovers in Citizen Kane and The Lady from Shanghai: A Comparison

Orson Welles' films Citizen Kane and The Lady from Shanghai each pivot on a central pair of lovers. Despite the differences of the movies, each set of main characters share a set of characteristics. Both pairs of lovers (Susan Alexander and Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, and Elsa Bannister and Michael O'Hara in The Lady from Shanghai) contain a powerful person and a less-powerful person; thus, the dynamics of power, desire, love, ambition, and evil form similar patterns in each couple. Though on the surface these people appear to be dissimilar, not only in sex but in position in life and temperament, the underlying motivations and the outcomes from those motivations are much alike.

Orson Welles explores the idea of power and manipulation in sexual relationships in each film. Berg and Eskine, in their article on Kane, explain that "Thematically, Welles was always interested in power and love - and failure. Contrary to the conventions of the Hollywood success story with its happy ending...Welles was determined to make a 'failure story.'" (Berg and Eskine, 54). This kind of failure of not only love, but of ambition, is a theme in both Kane and Lady. The excess of power on one side of a relationship...

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