Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Was It Really That Wonderful?

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." —Euripedes, Greek Dramatist
It occurs to me that George Bailey might not have had such a wonderful life after all. In fact he may have been on of the nastiest, frustrated sons-of-bitches who ever came into your living room without wiping his feet. All because of an inept Uncle Billy who couldn't control his pride and a pretty shrewd businessman, Mr. Potter who knew a good thing when he saw it. These factors, combined with his savior-complex, comprise his tragic flaws. I can't really think of one good thing that George Bailey did outside of saving his brother, which anyone would have done anyway given the chance. (Who wants to go home and say, "Harry fell through the ice and drowned, so I came straight home.")
And it was self-preservation, not altruism that made him be dole out the bare cash-minimum to his "friends" when they made a run on his building and loan business.
From the time a little pressure is put on him, his lack of character begins to show, and he winds up cracking under the strain. Blaming everyone else for his problems but the one person who is responsible; George Bailey, the "bitter, twisted young man." It is only through the pity of the Gods, and the unfathomable kindness of erstwhile B&L customers/friends(?) that he makes it at all. George Bailey was a vicious, passive-aggressive sociopath with a hand full of gimme and a mouth full of "much obliged," too self-absorbed to know what a bad person he really was. He was a martyr who figured he never got what he deserved. And he was right. What he deserved and what he thought he deserved, of course, were two different things.

1 comment:

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