Sometimes We Must Break Loyalties in Order to Do What Is Morally Correct

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On The Waterfront, is a film that was created in 1954 by Elia Kazan. It follows the story of Terry Malloy and the events that occur on the docks of Hoboken. The contention for this essay is that ‘sometimes you have to break loyalties to do what is morally right.’ Some characters that depict this include Charlie, Terry, Edie, Joey and Dugan. For Terry to gain Edie’s loyalty and trust, he must break his ties with the mob. Terry has family ties with the mob; Charlie (member of the mob) is his brother and Johnny (leader of mob) treated Terry like he was his own son from a young age. Because of this, Terry feels like he has to be loyal to the mob and that he must do what they ask him to do. In the bar scene after Joey’s death, Johnny is treating him as if he’s family; Kazan demonstrates this by having Johnny leaning on Terry and ‘play fighting’ with him. However in this scene, Kazan also shows the power Johnny has over Terry by using low angle shots, which make Johnny seem bigger than Terry. In this scene, Johnny also puts some money into Terry’s shirt, Johnny does this in such a way which shows that he has power over Terry and that Terry needs to remember that. After Joey’s death, Terry begins to see that what the mob is doing is immoral and wrong. This starts to become apparent after Joey gets pushed off the roof and Terry says to Charlie “I thought they’d just lean on him a little”; Kazan uses this line as a way of showing that Terry is beginning to think that what the mob do is wrong. After Charlie’s death, Terry breaks his ties with the mob. Edie sees this as a sign of freedom for Terry, and decides that she is able to trust him and sticks with Terry through till the end. Terry having the courage to break his ties with the mob, despite the consequences that could follow, show how he can break his loyalty with someone to gain a greater trust and loyalty from Edie.

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