Schindler as an admirable character

This essay may help those of you who are revising Schindler. I have already had some feedback and students have told me to fix up the student’s punctuation – Jew’s to Jews – good spotting! And that the essay needs a discussion of filmic detail – camera work in particular and that quotations need to be added.

Analyse how one main character or individual changed to become more (or less) admirable.

In the film Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, the main character of Oscar Schindler dramatically changed into a vastly more admirable character than when we were first introduced to him. As Schindler gained more wealth and power he had more experiences which tested his moral fibre and the decisions he made were what changed the viewers opinions of him to see him as more admirable by the end of the film.

Schindler was firstly seen as a selfish entrepreneur with a love of luxury and thrived off the profits of slave labour during World War II. His pot factory, however, soon became a haven for Jews as Schindler collected them from labour camps, mostly in Poland. As Schindler went to the labour camps he would be witness to many brutal shootings of the innocent and undeserving Jews. As the Holocaust worsened, Schindler heard more horrific stories which he could no longer ignore and quickly wrote up a list, with the help of his financial advisor, an intelligent Jew, Itzak Stern. With the names of hundreds of Jews. Schindler took the list to the commandant of the labour camp and demanded ‘what is one worth to you’, ‘tell me, just tell me, what is one worth!’ This is the major turning point for the character of Schindler as we see he has realised the true value of money and life. This quote shows how he is willing to pay any amount to save the lives of the Jews.

Schindler’s character is contrasted with the character Amon Goeth, the commandant of the labour camp. The contrast between the two emphasizes to the audience how admirable Schindler becomes. Both men reach positions of power because of the war and have many lives at their finger tips. Goeth, after a night of drinking, eating and partying, gets out of his bed and with a smoke in his mouth, idly shoots Jews in the camp below who are simply going about the chores they have been assigned. This horrific behaviour and brutality towards the Jew’s demonstrates how easily power can corrupt one’s mind and Goeth sees the Jews as worthless. The viewer is shocked by these scenes as we cannot understand how a human could mercilessly kill another and we then realise how ‘angelic’ the actions of Schindler are.

One of the final scenes where Schindler is leaving his factory to escape the police is a moment where Schindler’s transformation into a morally good and admirable person is concreted. With tears in his eyes Schindler exclaims this watch, one. And this car, that’s five for this car alone. As he reminisces over how many more lives he could have saved the viewer is convinced of Schindler’s transformation from a selfish entrepreneur to a selfless hero. He saved the lives of over one hundred families yet still feels guilty as if it weren’t enough. Schindler did a very admirable job at saving so many lives and many people would aspire to become what he had transformed into in such a tough situation.

Schindler went from one extreme to the other in his transformation so the change in becoming more admirable was much more dramatic to the viewer. Schindler began as a selfish man but redeemed himself by saving so many innocent lives then claiming it wasn’t enough. This made the viewer see Schindler as a character to admire by the end of the film.


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