Study Guide

Citizen Kane Love

Love

NARRATOR: Denver's Bonfils and Sommes; New York's late, great Joseph Pulitzer; America's emperor of the news syndicate, another editorialist and landlord, the still mighty and once mightier Hearst. Great names all of them—but none of them so loved, hated, feared, so often spoken—as Charles Foster Kane.

As the narrator tells us, there are many great wealthy men in America. But none of them provokes so much love and hate as Charles Foster Kane. If it was Kane's mission to be spoken about, he succeeded. Unfortunately, his mission was to be loved—but he ended up making just as many enemies as he did friends.

RAWLSTON: Here's a man who might have been President. He's been loved and hated and talked about as much as any man in our time—

As the newsreel director says, Charles Kane could have been president at one time. But he messed it all up just like so many mighty men have throughout history. One of his biggest problems, of course, was assuming that people would love him if he threw a lot of money around and tried to help the "working man."

RAWLSTON: That manager of his—the little guy, Bernstein, those two wives, all the people who knew him, had worked for him, who loved him, who hated his guts—

As Rawlston tells us, there were a lot of people who were close to Kane and were supposed to love him. But things didn't work out that way in the end, because as he got older, Kane got a lot tougher to be around.

BERNSTEIN: He finished it. He wrote the worst notice I ever read about the girl he loved. We ran it in every paper.

Maybe Kane loves his wife Susan and maybe he doesn't. But he sure deals her a crushing blow when he takes his friend Leland's review and finishes it the way Leland wanted it. Maybe he's trying to show how honest he can be, but Kane runs a review that absolutely pans his wife and basically trashes her career.

LELAND: That's why he did everything. That's why he went into politics. It seems we weren't enough. He wanted all the voters to love him, too. All he really wanted out of life was love.

According to Leland, all Kane ever wanted out of life was love. But his concept of love was warped from a young age by always having an infinite amount of money to throw around.

LELAND: That's Charlie's story—it's the story of how he lost it. You see, he just didn't have any to give. He loved Charlie Kane, of course, very dearly—and his mother, I guess he always loved her.

Charlie Kane wanted love, but he didn't know how to give any himself. For him, love was something he could go out and "get" in the same way he could get a statue or a newspaper.

LELAND: You want love on your own terms, don't you, Charlie—love according to your own rules.

According to Leland, Charles Kane is totally incapable of letting himself be vulnerable with another person. He needs everything on his own terms or else he goes to pieces. And that's just the problem, because he desperately wants love but has no clue how to love someone properly.

KANE: To love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody knows... his own.

Eventually, Charles Kane admits to his friend Leland that he wants love on his own terms and that's that. In his mind, a person can only love on their own terms because he can't imagine it being any other way. The idea that two people can be totally vulnerable with each other and share their lives is completely off his radar.

LELAND: No. I wish you'd go home to Emily. She'll be pretty upset by all this—she still loves you—

Leland thinks that even with everything that's happened with Kane's public affair, his wife Emily still loves him and he should go home to her. But that means Kane will have to humble himself and be vulnerable, and that's not something he plans on doing anytime soon. So he just lets his marriage dissolve.

KANE: Too late for what? Too late for you and this—this public thief to take the love of the people of this state away from me? Well, you won't do it, I tell you. You won't do it!

When Gettys blackmails Kane to drop out of the race for governor, Kane stands firm and refuses to back down. He destroys his marriage and his family in the process, but he doesn't care. In his mind, he's entitled to the love of all the people in the world and he won't let anyone take that away from him.

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