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“Unforgiven” the Movie by Clint Eastwood Essay

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Updated: Sep 28th, 2021


People vary considerably in how they process outside stimulation. Some may think of these forces as a problem or an opportunity to make one’s life better. The film Unforgiven demonstrates how a man is torn between his old self and his transformed self because of an outside force that prompts him to go back to his old ways.

Munny, the main protagonist, is a retired gunslinger, who displays both gentleness and firmness in the film as he risks everything again for his loved ones by taking one more task to kill. This paper maintains that no matter how inveterate a killer William Munny is, he is still capable of changing his deviant ways for the sake of his family and children. The paper will look at three points that supports this thesis namely: Munny’s strange sense of justice, his pride and his love for his family.

Munny’s strange sense of justice

Munny is a retired gunfighter who settles down in his farm raising hogs and his two children. He seems peaceful and satisfied with his lot, until a young man who calls himself the “Schofield Kid” arrives just at a time when he has had bad luck as a homesteader since his hogs are all coming down with fever. This Schofield Kid learns of the $1000 reward offered by a brothel because one of their prostitutes was slashed on the face by two men. The brothel seeks vengeance and Kid offers Munny to be his partner to do the killing. For this Kid, Munny is the best gunfighter to do the job with him.

This, therefore, triggers Munny’s sense of commitment to his family so that he can have some money for their sustenance. He is torn about accepting this offer because he has a difficult time fighting his old nature especially with the juicy offer of a substantial amount to be given to him if only he will carry out his mission successfully. Munny’s strange sense of justice is based on his belief that he must be able to help the people who are victims of these men with no conscience. He knows that he must avenge for the lives of victims even if that means that he has to kill and murder evil people. Being a hitman and a murderer, carrying out a mission like that is an easy task for him.

Munny’s pride

Secondly, we see that right from the start that Munny’s pride is as strong as his stiff demeanor. Munny is too proud to say that age has caught up on him and that the assignment can be quite a physical task. He ponders on his moves, mulling things over as he goes about his day. But the children needed to be fed; therefore, Munny was forced to take the mission. His sense of pride is pricked as he struggles not to tell a lie but when he is confronted by the armed men who were informed that he had entered the place with his guns, he tells a lie by not admitting that he had a gun with him. The men discover that he had hidden his gun inside his jacket, but he would rather face them courageously instead of running away. Munny refused to be coerced; therefore he got beaten to a pulp.

This kind of pride is also seen in another circumstance, when he is nursed back to health after being sick. He requests his friend, Ned, that in case he dies, his friend must never tell his kids about their mission. The pride is there as he values the way his kids look up to him. Munny demonstrates how the west is an unforgiving place where there are killings and guns are common.

A big heart for his family

Lastly, he has an admirable love for his wife and family. He is faithful till the end, as he declines the invitation of a woman to have intimate moments with her, justifying that they both have scars and that he cannot do the act on account of his wife. His wife has been instrumental in his change of character and he feels that he is betraying her even as she has passed away, should he decide to give in to her enticements.

He knows what he is now and that he has inevitably changed. He is just doing the task for the money but he will not compromise his other values in other areas of his life. He is careful not to let his children know about his activities. He even prevented the man who offered him the deal not to talk within hearing distance of his children as he interjected, “Now hold on Mister…. Penny, help your brother…” Indeed, he is shown as a devoted father as he leaves them reminding them of the little things they ought to remember, “Take care of your little sister. Kill a few chickens if you have to.” His sense of responsibility was foremost in his mind — all for the love of his family.

This was a tempting offer, therefore, and he could not resist the man who even said, “You could even buy her new clothes–” Viewers see the knitted brows on Munny’s face as he wrenches with his emotions, trying to hide what he really feels. How can he resist the offer? His children were all he could think of. The visitor—monied, enticing and taunting—soon had him thinking on the possibility of just one more task. Munny is now as restless as an aspen leaf in a breeze.

Munny is a selfless man and this is further seen as he leaves his farm to carry on his task. The fact that he could not mount his horse at all was not because he did not know how to do that, for he was used to all that stuff before. All his violent past had been put aside and now he was a new and transformed man who was about to go back, one last time, to his old ways for the sake of his family. There was no other selfless act he knew he could do than to risk his life for them.

Indeed, we see the efforts that Munny undergoes as he walks down the path of righteousness and change this time around. His heart for his family cannot be disparaged because this seems to be the only thing that motivates him to move on and take care of his kids who are growing up. A person’s behavior is largely determined by his social environment such as the influence of human relations, poverty, and the like.

Munny shares the responsibility for his actions with the social forces around him. If he was not exposed to the negative social forces, he will not be prone to evil behavior. He “naturally” has “good” desires and therefore “good” behavior. To eliminate bad or evil behavior, one must focus on changing the social forces rather than on an individual’s actions. For Munny, he had a simple aim in life now: to secure the future of his children especially since he is the only one left to provide for them.


Munny is not a “hard-wired” killer but a man who exerts everything in order to change for the better. In sum, Munny is a character that viewers commiserate with because he has a soft heart for his family and is a staunch defender of the abused. He knows his purpose is to take care of his family and provide them well. He possesses a vulnerability that makes him command respect and admiration from viewers even if his approach is aggressive.

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1. IvyPanda. ""Unforgiven" the Movie by Clint Eastwood." September 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unforgiven-the-movie-by-clint-eastwood/.


IvyPanda. ""Unforgiven" the Movie by Clint Eastwood." September 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unforgiven-the-movie-by-clint-eastwood/.


IvyPanda. 2021. ""Unforgiven" the Movie by Clint Eastwood." September 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unforgiven-the-movie-by-clint-eastwood/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '"Unforgiven" the Movie by Clint Eastwood'. 28 September.

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