Milk Jugian Analysis by Maddy Bouchard

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Milk Jugian Analysis by Maddy Bouchard

Post  Maddy Bouchard on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:28 am

Madeleine Bouchard
Mr. Coculuzzi
Jungian Visual Medium Analysis.
ENG 4U
23 January 2011


Milk Archetypal Analysis

The 2008 film Milk is based on the real life of Harvey Milk, an American politician and gay activist. In the film, Harvey faces challenges and must fight against societies discrimination's against gay people in a time where it was not accepted. Harvey is able to raise awareness on the issue of gay rights and becomes the first openly gay man to be appointed public office in California. Harvey was tragically assassinated at the age of forty eight in his own office by former supervisor Dan White.

When comparing Milk to Jungian symbolic archetypes, battle between good and evil best suits the category for this film. Harvey is a strong believer in gay rights, and wants to create awareness and help others who are suffering from discrimination as well as become a motivational political leader. He would not have difficulty completing these tasks if it was not for society’s strong dislike and prejudice against him because of his sexuality. Harvey is in a constant battle with the other political leaders and members of society who don't agree with being gay. Harvey, representing good and the forces against him represent evil. These two primal forces are constantly in opposition for the entire film. Evil can be defined as an act in which someone purposely causes destruction or misfortune. In the case of this film, evil would be a selection of the people from San Francisco who refuse to vote for him and threaten Milk’s life. Dan White and the police who beat and terrorize the LGBT community represent evil in this film because of their actions to suppress gay rights and maintain family values. It seems as though evil conquers all in the end. Harvey Milk is shot dead by a jealous Dan White who is angry and spiteful at the fact that he could not get his job as supervisor back because Milk, a gay man had taken his place. However, good is restored once again as people mourn at the loss of their hero. Captions at the end of the film read that 30 000 people came out to honour Milk that night. Dan White was put in jail for five years. Less than two years after his release, he committed suicide. Milk has ever since become a legend and a public icon for gay rights.

Looking at situational archetypes, the task is most applicable to Harvey's circumstances. The task is a duty that must be completed in order to win over someone and or a group of people in order to gain identity and your rightful position. Harvey Milk feels as though his task is to raise awareness about gay rights, as well as to gain a political position he knows he deserves but is being discriminated because of his sexuality. For this archetype the hero must perform some nearly superhuman deed. It could be argued that at that time, what Harvey Milk was trying to accomplish was almost superhuman and this is what took people by surprise. Never had anyone who was homosexual stood up for himself and been openly gay and proud. This created an uproar but Milk was focussed on his task and did not back down. Milk was successful in completing his ultimate goal but was sadly killed at the end of the film.

For character archetypes, Harvey Milk fits under multiple archetypes. He could be regarded as a hero. “Ragland finds that, traditionally the circumstances of the hero’s conception are unusual, and at his birth, some attempts are made to kill him.” You could consider him being a gay man to be unusual circumstances of his conception and therefore affected his childhood. For many he was a hero because of the things he accomplished. Although he does not perfectly meet the criteria of a typical hero he definitely shows some aspects. The hero “can be clearly divided into a series of well-marked adventures.” His life is threatened many times in the film and he must embark on a series of adventures such as frequent public speeches and campaigns to reach his goal of becoming a political leader. Harvey could also be considered a mentor, in the sense that he was a role model for those who were in need of hope at that time. He served as a father figure for the suppressed gay individuals who were struggling. He can be considered a scapegoat. A scapegoat is described as a "human whose death in a public ceremony expiates some taint or sin that has been visited upon the community." When Harvey is killed in City Hall, a new wave of respect for him is raised among people. The sins that society had committed such a terrorizing the gay community are lessened by this tragedy. A scapegoat becomes more powerful after their death than while they were living. This is true in the context of Harvey Milk. After his fall, he became an icon and an inspiration. Gay individuals were able to hold their heads up high and continue the work Harvey left behind such as continuing to fight for gay rights that is still happening today.

In conclusion, the film Milk can be described as a battle between good and evil. Harvey’s determination and strength allows him to achieve his goal of a political leader. For the category of situational archetypes, Harvey Milk is on a quest to become supervisor and spokesperson on the subject of gay rights. When comparing character archetypes, Harvey is a hero as well as a mentor and a scapegoat. He is able to accomplish his objective, but is sadly killed at the end of the film. However his legacy and quest continue as gay rights are still being fought for.

Maddy Bouchard

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Harvey Milk as the Outcast

Post  Mattia Thillaye-Kerr on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:38 am

The character of Harvey Milk can also be defined as the Outcast. in his youth, and by some of his peers in later life, he is rejected. By the right wing, and even the wine store owner across the street, he is considered a person who should be banished from the community. He does not wander from place to place as Jung's Outcast does, but his sexual orientation causes people to reject him.

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Post  Mr. C on Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:13 am

Madeleine - great analysis! I particularly liked your observation that Harvey was multiple character archetypes and that the archetype depends on the situation and context. This helps to demonstrate that literary characters (and we ourselves) have more depth and breadth than just some kind of stereotype. In your analysis of the symbolic between Good and Evil, I was also thinking that Light vs. Darkness could be applied, especially in terms of knowledge-acceptance. That is, Harvey's task to bring more awareness (knowledge/light) about gays to the wider community that was ignornat (darkness) would hopefully lead to a greater understanding and acceptance.
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