Through out the movie Unforgiven, it started to become apparent that whiskey is a big part of that old west life style. The characters seemed to really rely on whiskey in several scenes as either a crutch after a difficult situation or tough shooting, or as a reward. William Munny is the most obvious character where whiskey has played such a strong role in his life. It is obvious to viewers that he used to heavily drink whiskey before he married his wife, yet mentions that his wife changed him and pulled him away from the negative habit. Munny continually passes up taking a drink of whiskey from Ned. In the beginning of the movie, it is constantly forced upon him yet he has such a will to reject the drink and not fall back into his old habits.
In this scene Munny talks about how his late wife, Claudia, changed him and allowed him to take a better step in the right direction, whiskey free. It appears here that whisky represents old bad habits and his old life of heartless killing. Although Munny is going back to kill he claims it is for different reasons, just for money. It appears that the whiskey free lifestyle represents this new light of killing for him and just killing those who have done severely wrong. Ned is a character that seems to constantly rely on the whiskey as an ailment for both mental and physical heath. After Munny has been severely beaten up and almost died, Ned feels that he needs some whisky to bring him back to health and have a smooth recovery. Another way where whiskey is shown as a positive reinforcement in the characters life is where Little Bill offers whiskey as a reward to the people of his county if they find Munny and The “Schofield Kid.”
However, the greatest effect of whiskey really becomes apparent after Munny is told that Ned is dead. This is the moment when Munny realizes that he will once again have to kill for revenge out of spite. When realizing this he takes his first sip of whiskey after several years. Whiskey really represents a state of mind in this scene and shows a new more malicious outlook that Munny will have to take. Whiskey seems to drown many negative, terrifying memories for these killers, yet through Claudia Munny had learned to cope without the whiskey.
Immediately after this scene Munny takes his first drink when he has to face the pain of dealing with Ned’s death. However, the most most interesting aspect of this is how The Schofield kid uses whiskey as his crutch during this scene. He continually chugs the whiskey as he talks about killing a man, and Munny even admits he was drunk most of the time when he killed men in the past. However, it is fascinating when Munny says, “Take a drink ” to the Schofield kid when he begins to cry about killing his first man. It is clear here and proceeding through the rest of the movie the effect that killing has on these men and how they use whiskey to cope. Even in the last scene when Munny kills all those men, including Little Bill he takes a shot of whiskey almost as a way to deal with all of the lives he has just taken. It is really evident through Ned, Munny, and Schofield Kid’s characters that whiskey helps them deal with their horrific acts of killing others, especially when it is in an act of vengeance. When the situation became too tough and too devastating, not even Munny could resist the temptation of whiskey to deal with this lifestyle.