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Themes motifs and symbols of Schindler's List SMC WGTN

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Olivia Stephens

on 19 August 2014

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Transcript of Themes motifs and symbols of Schindler's List SMC WGTN

Themes, Motifs and Symbols in Schindler's List
GOOD VS EVIL
One of the central themes in Schindler's list is the theme of good vs evil. The film is full of parallels contrasting good vs evil, light vs dark, right vs wrong. One of the main ways this theme is shown is through the characters of Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth. Both of these characters have to face the war and make choices on how they choose to react to it. In the end, Schindler chooses to work for good while Goeth clearly chooses to make evil and immoral decisions (by murdering many Jews).
VIRTUE
Related to the theme of good vs evil is the theme of virtue in Schindler's List. Oskar Schindler at the beginning of the movie is a man who is vain and self obsessed, caring only for money and not for Jews. However, over the course of the movie we see his change in heart and growth in virtue. He becomes a virtuous and kind man who gives everything to help others. Stern is a character who represents Schindler's conscience, guiding Schindler to make moral decisions and helping him to grow in virtue. As they get to know each other more and more, Schindler becomes more and more aware of the need to help others and the value of virtue.
Lists were a recurring motif throughout the film. There were 'bad lists' of the Jews who were to be sent to Nazi camps (conveying the theme of dehumanisation) and Schindler's 'good list' which showed the themes of virtue and loyalty. This contrast helps to show the theme of good vs evil.
The image and sound of trains is an important motif in Schindler's List. These trains represent death (as they took so many people to their deaths at concentration camps), dehumanisation (as Jews were packed into them like cattle with no space to move), and the neverending cycle of the Holocaust with trains constantly bringing people to camps.
The sound of dogs barking and military footsteps was a motif that was used throughout the film to represent the constant presence of the fear associated with the Nazis.
In the film Schindler's List, directed by Steven Spielberg, there are a number of themes that are explored. Recurring motifs and symbols are used throughout the film to enforce these themes.
THEMES
THE POWER OF ONE
Oskar Schindler is a single man who ends up saving thousands of Jews' lives. He shows us the theme that a single person can make a huge difference for good by choosing to do the right thing and making an effort to help others.
LOYALTY
Another key theme
in Schindler's List is the importance of loyalty. This theme is shown through the way that the Jewish families stuck together and never gave up hope. It is also shown through Schindler's loyalty to his workers; he promised them that everyone who had worked at his factory would be kept for his new factory, even if this meant that he had to buy each and every one of them. He shows loyalty to these Jews.
POWER
Different aspects of power are shown in Schindler's List. Goeth shows power through fear; by making the Jews fear him, he gains a kind of power. However, Schindler shows that true power shouldn't come from fear, but from a mutual respect. Stern also shows the power of resilience and hard work when he forges countless work permits for Jews and later writes up the massive lists that Schindler has requested.
MOTIFS
DEHUMANISATION
One of the most tragic things about the Holocaust was the way that the Jews' humanity was denied, and how instead they were treated like animals. One of the central themes in Schindler's List is the dehumanisation of the Jews. The Jewish people had all of their rights taken away by the Nazis and were exterminated by the millions with no respect for life. To the Nazis, Jews were not people but were just something that needed to be eliminated. They killed them like you would animals, not acknowledging that each person had a life and a right to live.
Death is a recurring motif in Schindler's List. Over and over, the film shows Jews being executed, shot and in piles of the dead in full detail. This shows the extent of the horror of the Holocaust.
SYMBOLS
GIRL IN THE RED COAT
ROAD PAVED WITH JEWISH HEADSTONES
SCHINDLER'S RING
PILES OF JEWISH ITEMS
Sinead Keane
Olivia Stephens
Holly O'Shea
Kayleigh Cotterall
Sian Campbell

The girl in the red coat was a symbol of innocence amongst a corrupt world. The red color, contrasting the black and white of the film alerts the viewer to the significance of this symbol.


The road paved with Jewish headstones symbolises the way that the Nazis disrespected the Jews and tried to eliminate their history. By desecrating their gravestones, a symbol of the Jews' lives, this symbolises that the Nazis essentially destroyed the memory of Jews from the world. This helps to show the theme of dehumanisation; Jews' lives were not respected but were treated with no respect.
One of the symbols in Schindler's List is piles of Jewish personal belongings. There are piles of suitcases, clothing, and even false teeth that once belonged to Jews but were taken by the Nazis. This symbolises the way that millions of Jews had what they loved taken away from them with complete destruction of their dignity.
Schindler's ring is a major symbol in the film. It symbolises the fact that Schindler saved the downtrodden Jews and that there were many generations which stemmed from this.
Schindler's ring is a major symbol in the film.It symbolises the fact that Schindler saved the downtrodden Jews and that there were many generations which ste
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