Essay about Utopia By Charlie Chaplin

1282 Words 6 Pages
Visons of utopia manifest themselves throughout history as universal and shared ideals, yet the struggle for utopia is most poignantly experienced by the underprivileged and the marginalized. The hope and failure inherent in this struggle is a motif that presents itself in both real and fictional worlds. In 1893, black Americans like Ida B.Wells and Frederick Douglass spoke against the implicit racism of the Columbian Exposition. In 1911, an Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia, reacting to the racism and marginalization he experienced as a working class immigrant, famously stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Twenty-five years later, a fictional echo of Peruggia’s struggle appeared in Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, Modern Times. Each of these moments, real or fictional, forced the world to reckon with the failure of utopia. Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass, along with Chaplin’s protagonist, The Tramp, and the larger-than-life Vincenzo Peruggia are important social icons, who, through their subversive actions, wrestled with the machinery of privilege and made their voices heard and remembered.
The Columbian Exposition of 1893 was designed as a celebration of the arrival, four hundred years earlier, of Christopher Columbus in America. The centerpiece of the fair was affectionately named the “White City” by its builders, and featured colossal neoclassical buildings, designed to showcase both technological progress and artistic triumph (Rydell, par. 6). While white Americans of…

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