Violence Begets more violence

An old fashioned western film by the name of Unforgiven took place in Big Whiskey, Wyoming during the year 1880. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who also starred as the protagonist William Munny.  The character William Munny was a feared old gunslinger that savagely murdered multiple people in his youth. According to rumors around Big Whisky, he did not even have sympathy for innocent women and children and uphold no mercy. Just the pronunciation of his name struck terror into the hearts of his spectators. Moreover, the theme of Unforgiven is revolved primarily around the many acts of violence and its consequences, revenge. It is evident in many instances that the screenwriter wants to demonstrate that every cause has an effect. This idea may seem simply but it is more severe for those actions that are of extreme nature. To elaborate, the director essentially wants the audience to recognize that crimes and violence always have repercussions that eventually effect individuals in the future. There are numerous characters that commit acts of violence in the film and there are always consequences for those actions. There is a never ending cycle of violence in the film and I believe this is reflective of the real world as well. The director attempts to elicit within the audience thoughts of how violence is not the answer to all problems, if ever.

As for the title Unforgiven, it implies a significant meaning. This being that there are various characters that do not forgive others and these resentful feelings make them seek revenge on those that did the unforgettable feat. These actions are represented of characters such as, William Munny, Little Bill Dagget, Ned Logan, and the prostitute who was cut.

One might go as far to say that violence is accepted in the society of Big Whiskey. Just as alcohol and whiskey is, hence the town name “Big Whiskey”. However, violence is just seen as a usual act that happens to occur around town but Sheriff Little Bill is one character that does not accept guns or violence in his town. He attempts to regulate and supervise the drunken citizens. Moreover, the alcohol can be perceived as the one of the primary reasons for none stop violence.  William Munny does not drink anymore but in this scene you can see him get back into his old mindset and reverts back to his old habits. The death of this old friend has taken the last memory of his past away, being that his wife also died. Besides of his children, Ned was all he had left in his lonely life. Once back in his old mindset, Munny starts to drink again and definitely seeks to slaughter like old times. Munny traveled back to the town of Big Whiskey and started to seek revenge on those who lead to the death of his close friend Ned. Their actions were then unforgiven and he would not hold mercy on them.

The substantial amounts of violence that occurred all stirred from the beginning scene, where a prostitute was cut several times across the face by a couple of cowboys. The young lady happen to giggled at the size of the cowboy’s penis. This particular cowboy was embarrassed. Thus, this slight snicker wounded his pride, evidently, because he ensued by inflicting harm to the young lady. The cowboys fled the town after this and the ladies all got together and set a bounty out for the reckless cowboys. This lead to Munny, Ned and the Schofield Kid traveling on a journey to kill the wild cowboys. Munny and his two accomplishes eventually caught up to the wicked cowboys and managed to kill one. This murdering made others furious about the incident and therefore they attempted to retaliate. The cycle, as you can see has started and likely would not end until everyone has been killed. Therefore, violence leads to revenge and revenge leads to more of that.

In order to demonstrate how the cycle of violence and retaliation never ends in the town of Big Whiskey I will show this clip. Munny hears news of his friend and partner in crime, Ned, being whipped and killed. This instantly sends Munny into a state of rage and he then starts to plot his revenge on the people involved with that confrontation. Munny goes and slaughters many innocent and guilty people. The only person that really had anything to do with the death of Ned, was Little Bill. Moreover, Ned was killed because the sheriff was seeking to find out who killed the cowboy, which happen to be Ned and Munny. Therefore, it just never stops, this is evident more in the clip.


In the town of Big Whiskey acts of violence are generally accepted and not viewed upon as people would in modern society. Although, there was a character by the name of Sheriff Little Bill who attempted to enforce his regulations and laws. Little Bill attempts to maintains stability within the town where everybody wants to live ordinary lives but there are ruthless cowboys and new comers that pass by the town ever so often.

In conclusion, the director and screenwriter were attempting to exemplify how violence begets more violence. Furthermore, there will most likely always be somebody that will want to retaliate for a negative deed done to them or loved one. Therefore, people will come back seeking revenge and this movie demonstrated this condition of vengeance at its peak.



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4 responses to “Violence Begets more violence

  1. chaseweddington1

    I believed that the director highlighted so many recurring acts of violence to represent the high tolerance that people had for it in the old western era. For instance, take a close look at the scene which you posted on your blog. When Munny directs his shout gun at the owner of the establishment, he demanded that everyone clear out of his way. He gave the same order as he aimed at Little Bill. When giving his order, no one attempted to first draw their guns and band together to control the gun-toting Munny. The patrons that were in the building were complacent with the impending gunfight that was about to happen. This tolerance for violence is seen throughout the movie. For example, when Little Bill proceeded to thrash English Bob in front of the townspeople, no one attempted to intervene but instead continued to watch.This high tolerance for violence was a main characteristic of life in the old west,

    • While I would agree in general the “old west” had a reputation for high levels of violence and the people who lived there accepted this fact, I would disagree on why the citizens of Big Whiskey are docile when faced with intense violence. In this town Little Bill has placed himself as the sole wielder of violence with his ban on firearms within town limits. This restricts anyone attempting to usurp his power to the small number of deputies who are loyal to Bill and someone from the outside coming into town with an even larger amount of force than Bill and the deputies can wield (unlikely). This is combined with the legends about his previous life as a gunslinger similar to English Bob and William Munny. So from this we can gather the townsfolk are flat out unwilling to challenge Bill on anything he says or does, highlighted by his public beating of English Bob. This means they do not posses firearms and most likely do not experience a high level of violence that may be typical for an old west town. So when William Munny threatens them with a shot gun in a crowded bar, I do not believe it is acceptance of violence that leaves them docile. I believe it is unadulterated fear that leaves them dumbstruck and simply listening to commands given to them by anyone. (Even the deputies are shown to have minimal experience in gun fights earlier in the film) I believe this could be an alternate theory as to why Munny is not shot outright upon threatening little Bill.

  2. kyliewatt

    I also agree that the Western genre is known for its incorporation of violence. I like the point you made drawing in the title of the film to the story. This film is all about violence and more violence, so I agree that violence begets more violence especially in the western genre.

  3. You make a very valid statement in saying that there is a never ending cycle of violence in the film. This holds true for other films as well. For instance, Oldboy (2003) also involves a never ending cycle of violence. Woo Jin’s right hand man kills people and in the end is killed. Woo Jin also commits many acts of violence and in the end commits suicide. As so for most other characters in the film. This is very similar to the many acts of violence that were committed in Eastwood’s film. It is however abnormal how tolerable death was in old western time. Many old western films portray the same acts as permitted in Eastwood’s film.

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