The Narrative Code - Sample Essay
Imagery: Majority of the time we see images of drugs, cigars, guns and knives which are used and carried around by the goodfellas. This act as icons, which illustrate what the mafia are renound for and the real job of these characters, is to steal and to kill. City area is the basis of the scenes, where shots in restaurants and in bars are utilised. These are the places where these men negotiate their deals and handle their money as well as eat pasta, drink their whiskies and play poker.
Pasta also is symbolic of Italy, where the Mafia originated from portraying that these gangsters are patriotic for their Sicilian roots, which are required to become the ultimate “wise guy”. This imagery provides us with insight into the lives of people within the mafia and the power that they attain by being gangsters. Atmosphere: A constant tense atmosphere is built up within the film. This indicates the unpredictable lives of these people, and how one minute they have cars, money, rich homes and lots of girls but the next minute they could be in jail or killed.
Also even though a sense of trust is build between the characters towards the start of the film, as the plot thickens we observe that negotiations are made behind each others backs, which indicates mistrust between the characters and the no one can be trusted, not even your soul friends. Code of action and change: Plot: The plot is told in the narrative of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) – an Irish Sicilian boy who dreams of becoming a wise guy. Since he was a teenager he had a part time job within the local cab firm to be a messenger boy for the local mobsters within his area.
He soon finds himself dropping out of school and associating with this “crew” all the time (problem) His mentor “Paulie” is the ultimate wise guy, who looks after and teaches Henry all the tricks of the trade and Henry soon finds that he has joined this crew in order to make them his second family. He is then introduced to Jimmy (De Niro), who is an associate of Paulie and a notorious thief. Soon Henry finds himself helping Jimmy and his other messenger boy Tommy De Vito (Pesci). The three become a team and complete several amounts of robberies and deals that he is told to complete (problem).
Together they make insane amounts of money and live rich and splendid lives – which fulfils Henry’s long-term ambition. Henry then meets a girl (Karen – who also contributes to the narrative of the plot), who he falls in love with and then marries her. However, as he continues to work with Jimmy and Tommy, he finds that life isn’t so great within this gangster world, and even though he lives life with great luxury – he completes things that are irrational and morally wrong (problem).
As he continues to complete these “business deals” he finds that he betrays his mentor, his wife, his associates, which jeopardises his “whole cosy existence” (problem). Sub Plots: The relationship between Karen and Henry – even though their relationship starts of strong, after their marriage, we observe an abrupt deterioration in the level of trust and love within the relationship. This shows the impact that Henry’s career had on their marriage, and how he concealed the truth of his job from her.
His associations with other women also acted as a factor for this plot to develop and despite Karen knowing this fact she could not give up on Henry due to the intensity of her love. This evidently shows the role of women, and how they where perceived to be objects rather than people, which is an ideology that was seen within the time sequence when the film was shot. Tommy being “made” – this proves how Jimmy’s training made his messenger boy into a “wise guy” emphasising a moment of pride.
Also highlights how neither he nor Henry could become a wise guy due to their Irish roots – illustrating to the audience the importance of Sicilian blood is as it is the origin of the mafia. Henry’s drug dealing trade – this shows how extreme his character had turn to go against his mentor. Relationship between Paulie and Henry – Paulie acts as a father figure to Henry telling him and training him to become a wise guy. This relationship helps us to understand and emphasise with the pain that Paulie feels when Henry betrays him with his drugs deals in Pittsburgh as well as in the Courtroom.
Turning Points: He gets caught selling stolen cigars by police. However he goes to court and tells them nothing allowing Paulie and Jimmy to trust him, and showing a compulsory quality for becoming a goodfella. This gains him respect Tommy kills “Bates”, the untouchable Cuban gang leader, due to a silly argument, which shows Henry how irrational his colleagues can be. This is where he realises that some of the actions that his group take a wrong and immoral. Climatic point of plot.
Henry contemplates leaving Karen for his “bitch” Janice – Paulie and Jimmy talk to him and persuade him to stay with her for the sake of his crew Jimmy and Henry go to Tampa Bay to get someone from a client. However, Clients sister is a typist for the FBI who dobs the two into to the police. As a punishment both get 10 years imprisonment even though overall they and up doing 4 years. Within this time, to raise money for himself and his family, Henry goes into the drugs trade behind Paulie’s back.
After his imprisonment he continues to deal drugs despite Paulie’s ultimatum of not doing it, with Jimmy and Tommy He makes everyone get into the business with him. Jimmy also accomplishes a 6 million robbery that is his finest achievement. To make sure that no one traces him back to the police he kills all his associates (including killing someone in a meat compound so that he is frozen to death) showing his power and anticipation to make sure no one tracks him down. Tommy gets shot by “Bates” crew – showing what goes round comes round and that you can’t hide anything.
This is traditional example of “exchanging messages” which was inherited from the godfather films. Henry gets caught by the police for his drugs deals – realises that his gangster days are over and that he has no one. Climax: Climax for Henry’s character is when he finds out that gangsters may complete some murders for revenge or power, but they also do it for stupid reasons – which shows his the irrationality of his job (resolution for the fact that what he does is wrong).
However towards the end of the film, when he dobs Paulie and Jimmy to the police and becomes a part of the Witness protection Act, shows how he knows that his job is wrong and that he needs to do the morally correct thing by stopping their dealings (resolution to both society and his conscious). He also highlights the fact that he needs Karen in his life along with his kids – which is when he realises how much she means to him, which is another turning point of their relationship.