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‘The Real Charlie Chaplin’ The Origin Of The Tramp: Explained – What Did Chaplin Fear?

Previously, we have learned about the man who had dreamt of leaving his roots behind and becoming famous. We learned about the person who introduced himself to the world as an entertainer. The Tramp, Charlie Chaplin, used to work in a workhouse, and the pay was hardly enough. Growing up, Chaplin always faced economic struggles. But, he was determined that he would change his future. The world never believed that a boy from the street lanes could even make it to the big cities. Little did they know that tramps knew no restrictions. He came to America to conquer it, not to be like any other individual with a nice paycheck. We have learned about how many artists had copied Charlie Chaplin and the mess it had created during that period. Today, we will discuss “United Artists,” Charlie Chaplin’s very own production house, and his most significant projects. But, before that, we will take a moment to understand the real man behind the mask of the greatest entertainer.


What Was The Tramp’s Origin?

From the time the world was overwhelmed with Charlie Chaplin fever, the Tramp became the highest-paid actor of all time. The world viewed him as someone who could make any situation funny and comical. But, Chaplin expressed many things through his portrayals of physical comedy. When Charlie Chaplin released “The Adventurer,” society was sharply defined by the binary of classes. There, the Tramp stood up to the norms and fought against them. The Tramp introduced us to hundreds of migrants who were dreaming of a new life in his “The Immigrants.” Here we see the Tramp as an individual without a nation. This was probably the first time we understood the origin of Tramp. He has no language, no dialect, no nation. He is the audience of the world who watches, suffers, and ventures through the unknown. Yet, he speaks to everyone. We all see Tramp communicating with the poor, begging beside them, bringing food to feed them even while he remains hungry. “Shoulder Arms” shows us a world divided by gruesome conflicts. Even if you are from a different side, the Tramp will make you laugh. The Tramp transcends barriers such as identity, gender, and sexuality. He mocked authority and class. As the narrator of the documentary “The Real Charlie Chaplin” said, the Tramp was a nobody who belonged to everybody.


The Rich, Famous, and Beloved Chaplin: The Man We Don’t Know

Charlie Chaplin had famously told everyone that all the love and admiration were not for him but for the little Tramp that people cherished on screen. One of his friends, writer Alistar Cooke, said that Chaplin’s eyes made the initial impression. In a split second, they might fluctuate greatly in temperament. He was a charmer, and he could make these possible transitions within seconds. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., another friend of Chaplin’s, once said that Chaplin was a flamboyant character, mostly an exhibitionist. He would put on a great show at any time, and anywhere he pleased. He would love to pretend to be a rebel; hence, he would talk about any subject on any terms. In the interviews, Douglas also said that Charlie Chaplin always carried the notion that people would believe that he was a very profound reader. In reality, he had only read the first few pages of that book, but he pretended to have read the entire thing.

These are not allegations. Charlie Chaplin feared losing the attention he had. He feared poverty. However, he always remembered the old days in the lanes despite his money. During his days at the Lambeth Workhouse, he thought of his mother, who was taken to the asylum when he was a kid. He lived like an orphan, and yet he dreamed of becoming famous. So, when he became famous, his past haunted him every moment. Virginia Cherrill, an actress, said that to hide his true self from the outside world, Charlie Chaplin always acted, even in public. He became a full-time entertainer, whether it was a social gathering or anything, just to avoid people getting to know the real him. She went on to explain why he behaved this way. She said one is bound to act insecure with a childhood like that. Charlie believed that everything around him could be turned off, like a switch or something. His disbelief towards happiness resulted from all his traumatic experiences as a kid on the streets. Charlie Chaplin’s second wife, Lita Grey Chaplin, said he never believed anybody loved him. He even asked, “Why would anybody love me?” His fear of poverty exceeded the amount of money he earned, the respect he had around the world, and the love he gathered.


The Birth Of United Artists: A Man Without A Script

A few years passed, and Charlie Chaplin already had enough money to create his own studio and a distribution company named “United Artists .” He could finally liberate himself from the dependency on financial backers. Chaplin never followed any schedule or plan. In projects, he used to start with a vague idea and do it repeatedly until it became funny. Charlie would educate his actors and actresses on almost everything. Every single movement of any actor in front of the camera was done by Chaplin first, then the others followed suit. According to his assistant, if Chaplin could have done everything on set, he would have. It was not a lie, as Chaplin used to write, direct, produce, score, and act in his films. According to legend, he dabbled in make-up as well. When everything on the set was “okay-ed” by him, he would put on the tramp costume and stand in front of the camera. When he knew that he could control everything from production to distribution, he started his most ambitious project at that time, “The Kid .” Here we see the story of an orphan kid. We won’t bore you much with the discussion of the film, but the story carries a hint of what Chaplin lacked in his childhood. He was an orphan too, but no one cared for him. Here, in “The Kid,” we watch the Tramp take great care of the kid. He even fights against the authorities to keep the child to himself.


A Walk Down The Memory Lane: A Visit To England

Charlie Chaplin returned to London soon after becoming famous enough as an established director. There, he visited his childhood home. He saw the window where his mother used to sit and wondered. His mother was at a nursing home at that time. So, when Chaplin returned to America, he took her with him. Hannah Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin’s mother, spent her days collecting fragments of memories from the past, mixing them with the present and wondering. She could not understand the regular events in her life. When she saw her son dressed as the Tramp, with the dirty trousers, coat, and hat, she couldn’t hold herself back and told Charlie that she had got a new suit for him. She failed to realize that her son’s identity had now changed. The world could only recognize the dirty shoes of the Tramp. They would never welcome the man who played the character. In a way, just like his mother, Charlie Chaplin was all alone, while the Tramp, even though he did not belong to any nation, had the world as his home.

Charlie Chaplin lived a life full of struggles throughout his time being famous. He used to hide from the world so that no one could see the other side of the entertainer. Yes, he was the reason for a million laughs, yet the Tramp had his own sorrow to be dealt with alone. Next time, we will discuss how even the Sound Era failed to harm Charlie’s silent films.


See more: Origin Story And The Early Days Of The Greatest Comedian, Charlie Chaplin, Explained


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Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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