The Gospel of Violent Zeal in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven

Jewett, Robert
June 1998
Christianity & Literature;Summer1998, Vol. 47 Issue 4, p427
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
This article focuses on the movie "The Unforgiven," by Clint Eastwood. Tales of violent redemption have long played a crucial role in American entertainment. In Unforgiven one prostitute is cut up by two cowboys. Since the sheriff will not punish this crime, the prostitutes offer a reward for anyone who will provide vigilante justice. A young man recruits a retired gunman and his partner to kill the two cowboys who abused the lady. Will Munny is the superhero who kills the first cowboy. After his partner is killed by the sheriff, Munny shoots the sheriff. The movie develops some significant twists in the story of the American monomyth. The most important is that governmental law enforcement is the evil corrupting the community. Another twist is that the macho dimension of the American monomyth is mocked throughout this film.


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