The Kid (1921)

Brief Intro

“The Kid” (1921), directed by Charlie Chaplin, is a silent comedy-drama film that weaves humor with poignant social commentary. It tells the heartwarming story of a tramp who adopts an abandoned child and their adventures as they navigate life’s hardships.

Literary Devices Used in The Kid


Movie SceneDevice Example
Opening scene showing the note left with the babySituational irony: The note reads, “Please love and care for this orphan child,” expecting someone wealthy to find him, but a tramp does instead.
The Tramp’s efforts to protect the Kid from being taken awayDramatic irony: The audience knows the Kid is not really the Tramp’s son, but they share a genuine bond.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The Kid’s patched clothesSymbol of poverty and resilience.
The Tramp’s cane and hatSymbols of his dignity and persistence despite hardship.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The Tramp finding the abandoned babyEvokes sympathy and sadness from the audience.
The Kid being taken away by the authoritiesHeightens emotional intensity and audience’s empathy.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The opulent car next to the Tramp and Kid’s shabby homeHighlights the stark contrast between wealth and poverty.
The dream sequence where the Tramp envisions a perfect worldContrasts with his harsh reality.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The scenes depicting the rich and the poorSatire on social inequality and the class divide.
The exaggerated characters of the wealthy woman and the doctorSatirical portrayal of the upper class’s detachment from reality.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The recurring scenes of the Tramp and Kid evading authoritiesMotif of survival and resistance against societal forces.
The motif of dreams and aspirationsShown through the dream sequence and the Tramp’s constant striving for a better life.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The exaggerated fight scenes between the Kid and other boysEmphasizes the Kid’s courage and determination.
The dream sequence with angels and demonsHighlights the contrast between idealism and reality in a hyperbolic manner.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The opening scene with the noteForeshadows the central conflict of the film.
The Tramp’s protective actions towards the KidForeshadows his deep emotional attachment and the lengths he will go to protect the Kid.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The dream sequenceMetaphor for the Tramp’s idealized vision of life.
The Tramp and Kid’s strugglesMetaphor for the broader human struggle against adversity.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The relationship between the Tramp and the KidAllegory of parental love and sacrifice.
The portrayal of society’s treatment of the poorAllegory of social injustice and the resilience of the human spirit.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

The Tramp

Literary DeviceExplanation
PathosChaplin uses pathos to make the audience deeply empathize with the Tramp’s struggles and his love for the Kid.
SymbolismThe Tramp’s iconic cane and hat symbolize his resilience and dignity.

The Kid

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyThe Kid’s innocent actions often lead to comedic yet poignant situations, highlighting the irony of his circumstances.
HyperboleThe Kid’s exaggerated actions in fight scenes emphasize his spirited nature and determination.

The Mother

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingHer abandonment of the baby sets the stage for the central conflict and emotional journey of the film.
AllegoryHer search for her child represents a deeper allegory of redemption and maternal love.

Character Dynamics

The Tramp and the KidTheir relationship drives the narrative, showcasing themes of love, sacrifice, and resilience. The use of pathos and irony deepens their bond and the audience’s connection to their story.
The Mother and the TrampTheir dynamic is marked by dramatic irony and foreshadowing, highlighting themes of redemption and societal judgment.

Thematic Analysis

Poverty and Social Injustice

SymbolismThe Kid’s patched clothes and the Tramp’s shabby home symbolize the harsh realities of poverty.
SatireThe exaggerated depiction of wealthy characters critiques social inequality and indifference.

Parental Love and Sacrifice

PathosThe Tramp’s efforts to protect and care for the Kid evoke deep emotional responses from the audience.
AllegoryThe Tramp’s relationship with the Kid serves as an allegory for unconditional love and sacrifice.

Resilience and Hope

MotifRecurring scenes of the Tramp and Kid overcoming obstacles highlight their resilience.
MetaphorThe dream sequence represents the Tramp’s hope for a better future despite current hardships.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
PathosClose-up shotsClose-ups of the Tramp and the Kid’s faces intensify emotional scenes.
IronyJuxtaposition of scenesThe contrast between the lavish lifestyle of the wealthy and the Tramp’s humble existence underscores the film’s ironic tone.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene: The Tramp Finds the Baby

YouTube Link


  • Literary Devices: Pathos, Irony
  • Cinematic Techniques: Close-ups, Juxtaposition
  • Impact: This scene sets the emotional tone of the film, establishing the bond between the Tramp and the Kid and highlighting the irony of the situation.

Scene: The Kid is Taken Away

YouTube Link


  • Literary Devices: Pathos, Foreshadowing
  • Cinematic Techniques: Dramatic music, High-angle shots
  • Impact: The emotional intensity of this scene underscores the themes of love and sacrifice, foreshadowing the Tramp’s desperate attempts to reunite with the Kid.


Quiz: Test Your Knowledge on ‘The Kid’ Literary Devices

  1. Which literary device is primarily used when the Tramp dreams of an ideal world?
  2. What do the Tramp’s cane and hat symbolize?
    • a) Wealth
    • b) Dignity and resilience
    • c) Comedy
    • d) Social status
  3. Which scene best exemplifies the use of pathos?
    • a) The opening scene
    • b) The dream sequence
    • c) The Kid’s fight scene
    • d) The Tramp finding the baby
  4. The exaggerated depiction of wealthy characters in the film is an example of which literary device?