Placing archetypal "underdogs" or "losers" in the roles of protagonists allows and encourages the viewer to identify with them or understand them as an idealized Other, though the audience may differ from the failure protagonist in social class, gender, or any other condition. In film, one of the most persuasive and ubiquitous media of the 20th century, underdog and weakling characters germinated in early popular comedies such as those by Charlie Chaplin and the other silent clowns. Using Chaplin's filmography to illustrate the underdog's ironic supremacy, this thesis aims to unravel the initial values and expectations inherent in Hollywood underdog comedy films, trace these components to their paradoxical political and economic roots, and draw conclusions on their social and economic consequences.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hart, Anne Glenisla, "Selling the American Dream: The Comic Underdog in American Film" (2017). All Theses and Dissertations. 6313.
Underdog, Charlie Chaplin, comedy, American dream