The Meaninglessness Of Life In Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times

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The fear is ever-present, the fear of the modern city, the fear of the meaninglessness of life. Everything Malte sees emphasizes this fear. The city and its people seem absurd to him. They are going through their lives without any meaning, they are not aware of their existence in the world. In his notebook, he dwells on their meaningless existence. Wherever Malte looks, he sees death. The first sentence of the Notebooks itself is something that invokes death: “This, then, is where people come to live; I’d have thought it more of a place to die” (Rilke 3). This sentence, in the beginning of the text, reflects Malte’s fascination with death, and also his fear of the modernist city where everything and everyone seems to have a material identity,…show more content…
Many writers have felt threatened by modernization. With the growing materialization, they felt nostalgic about the country life. The way of life that takes shape with modernization contradicts with the idea of a meaningful human existence. Everything takes a material shape, even death. People turn into machines. Money is the only thing that matters. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is a fit example to understand these effects of modernization (Wikipedia Contributors, Modern Times). There seems to be no way of fighting with the materialization for a writer. He sees no meanings outside, and no way-out. A crisis of human existence emerges, the human is nowhere in sight. But even when there seems to be meaninglessness everywhere, one has to fight and create meanings to continue living. Camus’s writings present a similar idea, especially The Myth of Sisyphus (Wikipedia Contributors, The Myth Of Sisyphus). The struggle to live is greater than the absurdity of life. It is this will to live that Rilke has been able to write this novel, and create a character like Malte who does not give in but fights and tries to understand everything he sees around him, and give a new meaning to…show more content…
In the case of a writer, death is a subject which can have many interpretations. The protagonist in the Notebooks is a poet, he has written a play too. In his notebook, he deliberates on death, and its many forms. He writes about physical deaths and the images that invoke death. He writes about people who are ill, dying, and those who are already dead. Nearly everyone who is known to him, who is closer to him in some way or the other, dies in the course of the narrative. Death seems to have become a person in his life, the only one that is there behind everything, the Other. It is the only thing that seems to overpower him, and at times, control him. It threatens him, and his very existence in the world. He feels as if he is ‘nothing’ as compared to it. It is the only thing that frightens Malte, and at the same time, keeps him going. It is the very thing that interests him. For him, death is terrifying and yet the inevitable truth of life. It is always there but not in the realm of the known. It remains in the dark, waiting to overcome. It is his personal experiences with the unknown that make him write about death, in order to survive. It is only his writing that saves him from giving in because he is able to transform his experiences into his

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