This essay explores the characters, actions, and controversies of the three characters; Valence, Stoddard, and Doniphon, in John Ford’s film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence as a critique of political heroism and an examination of the value, relevance, scope, and limitations of the written law.
In the contemporary society, heroism is quite fragile and can be easily destroyed by the media. However, the dialogues between most actors in Ford’s film portray heroism as relative to the level of arrogance an individual can portray. The Man who Shot Liberty Valance sensationalizes the challenges associated with establishing political order in accordance with the rule of law. For example, Stoddard is given credit for killing Liberty Valance who had caused a lot of instability in the town through his violent actions. The wrongful credit enables Stoddard attain great political favors and he ends up a marrying Hallie, a woman who was also loved by Doniphin. Therefore, Stoddard gets fame out of an action done by Doniphon and end up taking away the woman he loved. He even ends up dying unrecognized. Therefore, the man who removed the hindrance to the developments in the town ends up unrecognized. Moreover, Stoddard confesses to a newspaper editor about the true story, the editor ignores the true story and publishes the untruthful one (Stewart, Wayne, and Miles Web).
The political aspect of the film focuses on Ransom Stoddard who is considered a hero since people assume he managed to kill the dreaded Liberty Valance. However, the actual hero in the shadows of political reality is Tom Doniphon since he was responsible for the killing under question. The reality of political heroism is evident when shooting of evil Liberty Valance by a civilian is considered a depiction of heroism even in the eyes of law (Stewart, Wayne, and Miles Web). The film addresses the issue of how law shapes the political arena. The