isual Style and Western Theme of Shane

isual Style and Western Theme of Shane

Length: 1558 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Visual Style and Western Theme of Shane

By analysing ‘Shane' (1953) in conjunction with its visual style and western themes, it will clearly show what aspects of western culture are apparent in the film. By looking at the visual style, this will show how the mise-en-scene informs the audience that ‘Shane' is placed in the western genre.

Firstly I will analyse the western themes that are visible in ‘Shane'. The whole narrative of ‘Shane' is the struggle of the homesteaders against the ranchers. In the late 19th Century when ‘Shane' is took place, homesteaders moved to the West to set up home. The homesteader's sought
agricultural development, they wanted to earn their own living on their own land. The homesteader's felt that by moving to the West would provide them wonder and promise. Loy states, (2001, p.45), ‘ ‘Shane' shows the coming of wheat farmers who fenced in the open range to protect their crops.' ‘Shane' portrays the on-going conflict between the homesteaders and the ranchers. The ranchers who occupy the tiny town and are led by greedy Mr Ryker feel the land taken by the homesteaders is their land. The ranchers increasingly terrorise the homesteaders in hope that they will disperse from their homes.

‘Shane' focuses on the Starret family, the father in the film, is defiant throughout, insisting the Rykers will not drive him out. The western themes evident in ‘Shane' are obviously the typical western setting. There is the dusty border town inhabited by the Rykers. It is not your usual western town, compared to Tonto in ‘ Stagecoach'. The town in ‘Shane' is in comparison desolate and not many buildings have been erected, whereas in ‘Stagecoach' they have. The emptiness represents an eerie and unsafe location. Even though the town is so deserted it still has the main wooden buildings visual in most western films. There is the saloon, mostly occupied by Ryker and his men, The Grayston general store which is bordered off only by the saloon doors, the blacksmiths, where Tory is visiting (before he gets murdered by gun-slinging Wilson) and finally a hotel.

We are made aware from the opening that Shane is connected to the wilderness as he descends from the mountains. The mountains are another key western theme that occurs time and time again. The opening scene echoes the final scene, as Shane proceeds back up the mountain he descended from. This shows the ‘ individual' leaving the ‘ community' of the homesteaders that he has been welcomed into.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"isual Style and Western Theme of Shane." 20 Oct 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Can Normal People be a Brave as Shane in "Shane" by Jack Schaefer? Essay

- The novel Shane written by Jack Schaefer is a story of a mysterious stranger that walked into the Wyoming valley in late 1800’s. He was introduced into the life of Joe Starrett, an honest, hardworking Wyoming farmer. The stranger rarely speaks about himself except that his name is Shane. Even though Joe knows little about Shane, he invites Shane to stay at his place for a while. While Shane is staying with the Starrett family, he discovers Fletcher, a wealthy and greedy man, and understands he is trying to take hold of Joe’s and other homesteader’s land....   [tags: Shane, Jack Schaefer, bravery,]

Research Papers
1010 words (2.9 pages)

The Consistencies Of Style And Theme Of Emily Dickinson 's Poetry Essays

- Introduction The aim of this paper is to discuss the consistencies of style and theme in Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts. During her childhood, Emily stayed in her home and rarely went out to see the world and very few people came to see her at her home making her world very small and lonely. On a trip to Philadelphia, Emily met Sir Charles Wadsworth who is believed to have influenced some of her poems about “heartsickness” when he went back to West Coast....   [tags: Poetry, Life, Emily Dickinson, Death]

Research Papers
866 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about Style Mirrored in the theme of As I Lay Dying

- Style Mirrored in the theme of As I Lay Dying William Faulkner in his book As I Lay Dying communicates the central theme of Independence to show his style of writing; Point of view. In As I lay Dying the theme is independence; of the family, of each character. Each of the characters independence is devised of their isolation and their individuality. In each characters chapter its their points of view, either if they are reliable or not, he shows what they are and converts it through the characters words and then to us....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
359 words (1 pages)

themebeo Epic of Beowulf Essay - Theme and Style of Beowulf

- The Theme and Style of Beowulf                   Interpretations of Beowulf’s theme vary much more than commentary on the poet’s style. In this essay I hope to state clearly some of the popularly mentioned themes running through the poem, and to carefully delineate many aspects of the author’s style.   “Many critics feel that the speech of Hrothgar between lines 1700 and 1784 encapsulates the moral of the poem….’He does not know the worse – till inside him great arrogance grows and spreads’” (Shippey 38)....   [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]

Research Papers
2714 words (7.8 pages)

Key Elements of Good Writing Style Essay

- Key Elements of Good Writing Style After reading William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style and Joseph M. Williams’ Style: Beyond Clarity and Grace, participating in hours of classroom discussion, and writing five short essays on the topic, I’m struck by the complexity of evaluating “writing style”. But I don’t know why I should be amazed. Borne from the elaborate human thought process, we instinctively dress up our writing in thrift-store duds or Fifth Avenue couture. Writing styles express our individuality; they are our language fingerprints – the writer’s identity is exposed, and no two styles are exactly alike....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Free Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

themebeo Epic of Beowulf Essay - Style, Structure and Theme

- Style, Structure and Theme of Beowulf                    A consideration of the stylistic features in the classic poem Beowulf involves a study of the poetic verse, the vocabulary, alliteration, litotes, simile, kennings, variation and double-meaning or ambiguity. A consideration of the structure and the theme of the poem involve a wide diversity of opinion on the subject.   First, let us talk about style. The poetic conventions used by this poet include two half-lines in each verse, separated by a caesura or pause....   [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]

Research Papers
4598 words (13.1 pages)

On Style Essay

- On Style Style is a very ambiguous word. Asking the question, “What is Style?” is almost a philosophical endeavor, comparable with “What is Truth?” Asking the question, “What is Good Style?” is even harder. Society’s boundaries are constantly shifting to accept or banish items from the definition, in art and writing specifically. Yet there are certain elements that remain constant in all these changes, and these are the elements that style manuals try to pin down. Before the class reading/blogging project began, I thought of style as the method a writer uses to communicate his/her ideas to the reader....   [tags: Style Toward Clarity Elements Writing Essays]

Free Essays
932 words (2.7 pages)

Shane Essay

- Shane Shane is a movie about a group of small town farmers who are being picked on by some cowboys. Then Shane mysteriously comes into view and tries to do the right thing by helping the farmers. Jack Schaefer wrote the script and the film was produced by George Stevens. Paramount Pictures released the movie in 1952. The characters in the movie were as follows. The main character in the film was (you guessed it) Shane, “the outsider” in this movie. Shane eventually stays with Joe Starret, his wife Marian and their son Joey....   [tags: Film Movies]

Free Essays
459 words (1.3 pages)

Style Essay

- Style I often wonder what style is, and how does a person know when they are in possession of it. Style is one of the many things that seem to change form day to day for me, and I'm never sure where it might lead me. I think we all have our own style, but how can we get away from having the same style that other people have. When I look through magazines, all I read is the same thing over and over, in a little different style, or voice. Then, when I look out the window, I see people dressed in about the same fashions....   [tags: Style Personality Individuality Papers]

Research Papers
1804 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about Style

- Style After reading Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, Williams’, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, and my peers’ reviews of these two books, I have come up with an all encompassing answer to the question: what is style, and what elements are most important to all writers. The answer is: there is no clear cut definition of style. It is ever changing; and is based on society’s views of what makes good writing, not necessarily the writer’s own thoughts on the matter. Therefore, the writer is better off following the set rules of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, determined by society; then adding her own voice....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Paper]

Free Essays
1566 words (4.5 pages)

Another key western theme shown in ‘Shane' is the idea of boundaries and fencing off. In the American history of the westward expansion there was the invisible borderline constantly moving West. Kitses quotes, (1969. p.10), ‘ Is the West a garden of natural dignity and innocence offering refuge from the decadence of civilization.' This Henry Nash Smith idea of the garden and the desert is obvious in ‘Shane' and this theory intertwines with the theme of boundaries and fencing off. The ‘garden' in this western is where the homesteaders have settled. The ‘ garden' (a huge open space), symbolises the Garden of Eden. This vast land could also be perceived as the desert, because the open plains could be fearful where no inhabitant of the East had travelled before.
The boundaries apparent in ‘Shane' are, an invisible boundary between the town and the homesteaders. When the homesteader's visit the town or the ranchers travel to the open plains, it is as if an enemy line has been crossed. Chaos erupts when a homesteader or a rancher is not where they are supposed to be. The swing doors in the saloon show a boundary between the general store and the bar. The saloon is distinguished as a masculine environment as women never enter. Bar fights are also a common occurrence signifying further that it is not a feminine space. The swing doors too show a division of masculinity. Another aspect of a boundary is the tree stump in Joe Starret's farm. Joe has been fighting to chop the stump down for two years, but it he is only successful when Shane helps him. This is mirrored in a later scene. Shane cannot cope fighting Rykers's men in bar and appreciates the assistance from Joe. They are now united as brothers. The fencing-off is evident when the Rykers trample down the fences and demolish the gardens. This shows the uncivilised behaviour of Ryker and his men. Such behaviour can be linked to Kitse's idea of the wilderness against civilisation, the homesteaders are desperate for ‘ freedom' but the ranchers are restricting them. A key vision of the breaking of the fences is when Joe and Shane fight in one of the final scenes. The brawl is accompanied by a cattle stampede, emitting a sense of madness and tension.

By looking at the mise-en-scene of ‘Shane' it will show the features that place ‘Shane' in the western genre category. In the opening scene (when Shane enters the Starret farm) the main prop he is using is the horse. The horse gives the impression of travelling, ( Shane is himself a traveller). Shane only wears two costumes in the film, the one he arrives and leaves in and the one he wears throughout the rest of the film. The first costume is a clear image of a western. He is wearing an animal skin outfit with fringes on it and a cream cowboy hat. The cream cowboy hat is a visual signifier to the audience as a light coloured cowboy hat is associated with good. This hat is contrasted and relevant later when we witness Wilson and his black cowboy hat. The two different coloured hats show the ‘savagery' of Wilson compared with the ‘humanity' of Shane. Shane is the main protagonist in the film. His relationship with the Starret family progresses the narrative. Shane has a resemblance to Ringo in Stagecoach. They both appear as loners but ultimately emerge as heroes. Shane is an inspiration to Little Jo Starret, as he is what Little Joe believes a cowboy should resemble.

Shane also has a gun-belt, chaps and spurs, which all make Shane a key character in the western films. As Shane becomes more influential in the Starret household his costume changes by wearing clothes more like the homesteaders. His sky blue shirt and navy blue trousers symbolise Shane's acceptance by the Starret family. Marion Starret is not a typical female. She is assertive and not just pushed into the background. Marion makes her opinions known. She does not want Little Joe to be associated with guns. Loy, (2001.p. 102) states, ‘ Little Joe is fascinated by Shane and asks him to demonstrate how to use a gun…Mrs Starret asks Shane to quit she does not want Joey to learn about guns.' Marion is always impeccable in her dress and her hair is tidy, suggesting she is a good homemaker.

Facial expressions and body language are very important in the visual style of ‘Shane'. The ranchers are very angry and unwelcoming. They show this by their reaction when Shane enters the saloon. They stare at him and are not happy with him being in their territory. The music is much more intense when we are in the company of the ranchers. Wilson especially has a very sly persona illuminating around him. His facial expressions when murdering Tory show he has no remorse. Wilson is a very slow-moving character and does not move around much. He hides his face under his black hat a lot of the time, consequently he is in shadow, and the shadow provides the impression of deceit and evilness.

A theme apparent twice in ‘Shane' is the community bonding together. The first time is the celebration of Independence Day. This theory of independence coincides with the finale when the homesteaders finally have freedom. The second time is at Tory's funeral where they sing, ‘Abide with me.' This scene is significant as it is when Joe changes the minds of the homesteaders and makes them stand their ground. The final scene when Shane has the shoot out in the saloon is a key theme of western films. This scene shows his appreciation to the Starret family, as he is fighting a battle meant for Joe. The progression of Shane riding to the saloon with Little Joe in hot pursuit carries on the narrative.

Weddle (1999. p.353) states, ‘ When Shane draws and fires at the gunslinger Wilson, it is with lighting speed and over in a second.' When Wilson falls into the table and it breaks, it is another visual signifier of the western film. With the help from Little Joe, Shane manages to save the independence of the homesteaders. Shane leaves the homesteaders in the final scene to the upset of Little Joe as he has given the homesteaders freedom and returns to nature. Shane has many visual style components within it that are linked to the western themes, making Shane a clear-cut western film. Kitses, (1969. p.10) quotes, ‘ The plains and the mountains of Western landscape can be an inspiring and civilizing environment.'


KITSES, J (1969) Horizons West, London, Thames and Hudson.

LOY, R, P (2001) Westerns and American Culture, London, McFarland and Company

WEDDLE, D (1999) The Western Film reconsideration, Chicago, University of Illinois Press.


Shane, Stevens (1953)

Stagecoach, Ford (1939)
Return to