Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Favourite Characters #10: George Bailey

#10 in the My Favourite Characters series: George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life
Storyline of Character: 
George Bailey lives in a small town in America of the late 30's and early 40's.  All his life he's wanted to travel the world, but when his father, (a businessman who has committed his life to a business helping the down-and-out people of town) dies, George chooses to stay and take over.  Over the years, his plans to leave the business behind and move on are continually pushed aside.  The business eventually goes bankrupt over a scheme by Potter, a wealthy miser.  George believes he has failed and tries to drown himself. A clumsy angel named Clarence is sent to help him. George tells the angel that he wishes that he had never been born.
Clarence grants George's wish. Then he takes him through town, showing him what the world would be like without him in it.  
The town without George is under the thumb of Potter. The brother whose life George saved as a child is dead.  George's wife is an old maid. His friends are living in poverty.
George is completely broken over this image and tells Clarence that "I want to live again."  After granting the wish, Clarence vanishes.  The people of the town give of their own money to help the business out of debt and George realizes the value in his simply faithful life.

Strong points of character:
George is faithful under stress.  He doesn't give up when it'd be easy too, and he is an advocate for the poor and those who have suffered injustice.  He's self sacrificing- at one point he gives up his chance at college to his younger brother- and yet he doesn't beat his own goodness over everyones' heads.

Weak points of character:
He doesn't see his own worth.  He tries to commit suicide because he doesn't believe his life has meant anything- something that anyone who knows him would contradict.  

What makes me Love this character (and his story):
Two aspects of George Bailey appeal to me.  
1. His aspirations. He dreams big.  He wants to explore the world- something I've felt beating in my own heart- and he's so excited about his dreams.  His passion for adventure and life is, quite simply, awesome.
2. His choices. Despite those great dreams, despite everything he WANTS to do, he has the moral strength to do what NEEDS to be done, even though it costs him years of patient sacrifice.  George does what is right, not what is comfortable.  When the rubber hits the road he doesn't go waltzing out of town, much as he might like to.  He is faithful in small things.  Over the years those things add up into one big story of a man's faithfulness and the things his faithfulness did for those around him.  I love that challenge.  Because most of us aren't going to do something to save the world or avert a war or cure cancer.  But every one of us has that potential to make a difference.   What would the world be like without you? That's a question I'm forced to ask every time I watch this movie.  How would the world be different if I wasn't in it?  

Quotes from this character:
George: Well, then, why am I seeing all these strange things?
Clarence: Don't you understand, George? It's because you were not born.
George: Then if I wasn't born, who am I?
Clarence: You're nobody. You have no identity.
George: What do you mean, no identity? My name's George Bailey.
Clarence: There is no George Bailey. You have no papers, no cards, no driver's license, no 4-F card, no insurance policy...They're not there, either.
George: What?
Clarence: Zuzu's petals. You've been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.

1 comment:

  1. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE = <3 <3

    Same with George. Heavens, I've always liked that guy--but over the years (Christmases. ^.^) I've really started to understand his longing. I really empathize with the lack of money (was there for years), and the longing for travel...and yet he does, as you said, what *needs* to be done, not what he *wants* to do.

    That movie seems to be the story of my family's life. :P And it IS wonderful, even amidst all that.

    He's a great character to look up to. I love him too. :)