On the Waterfront

Terry Malloy as a Hero: Individual Conscience Above Community Loyalty 10th Grade

In On The Waterfront, Elia Kazan chronicles the transformative journey of an inarticulate, but sensitive Terry Malloy; exploring the ensuing battle within his conscience as it grapples with his growing sense of morality. Terry steps into stride as his own man, shedding chains of dependence from his brother Charley. The film captures Terry’s shifts in ethical perception through his interactions with the characters that populate the Waterfront. From the virginal guiding force of Edie Doyle to the tyrannical grip of Johnny Friendly, Schilberg and Kazan create a world in which a bumbling ‘ex tanker’ with no moral vocabulary is deemed a hero by speaking out against the injustices of a silenced community. However to do so he challenges the prevailing reticence of people on the Waterfront. In this way, Kazan gives insights into the value of the individual at times when there is no pulse of self thought in a community.

The relationships forged by circumstance on the Waterfront bring Terry to re-examine the very core of his being. From the onset of the film, the audience is introduced to Terry as a naive, uneducated ‘bum’ who does as he is told. After being unknowingly accessory to the Joey Doyle hit, an incredulous Terry who thought, ‘...

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