Study Guide

Citizen Kane Pride

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KANE: You mustn't go, Susan. Everything'll be exactly the way you want it. Not the way I think you want it—by your way. Please, Susan—Susan!

Near the end of the movie, Susan decides that she's going to leave Charles. He tries to make her stay by promising to change. But Susan sees through his ruse and knows that he's just as proud as he's always been. He says he can change, but the fact remains that there's no evidence to show he can.

SUSAN: No matter how much it cost you—your time, your money—that's what you've done with everybody you've ever known. Tried to bribe them!

Charles has so much pride that he can't even understand the concept of loving people before they can love him. He just thinks that everyone in the world is an object whose love he can win if he just works hard enough at it.

LELAND: There are the people of the United States, and they are blaming you. Oh, I know it doesn't make any sense, but at least you can learn a lesson from it.

Leland tries to get Charles to see the error of his ways by giving him the straight dope on what many Americans think of him. He even thinks that Charles can learn a lesson from the things he's done wrong. But that's the problem with proud people: they have a way of not learning from their experiences.

KANE: What lesson? Not to expose fraud when I see it? Not to fight for the right of the people to own their own property?

Any time he's confronted with a blow to his pride, Charles is really good at deflecting the real issue and making the conversation all about other people, like the rich and the poor. It's little dodges like these that prevent him from ever having to confront anything that hurts his pride.

GETTYS: You're the greatest fool I've ever known, Kane. If it was anybody else, I'd say what's going to happen to you would be a lesson to you.

Boss Gettys knows that he has Kane beaten in the election for New York governor. But he also knows that Kane will never back down, so he goes ahead and exposes Kane's affair to the public, effectively ending his political career and destroying his family. Throughout it all, Kane never gives in to common sense because his pride is too strong.

GETTYS: Only you're going to need more than one lesson. And you're going to get more than one lesson.

Gettys can see how much pride there is in Charles, so he gives him some straight talk about what will happen to him. He knows that Charles is never going to learn any lessons because he's too proud to change. So he'll just go the rest of his life making the same mistakes over and over.

KANE: Don't you worry about me. I'm Charles Foster Kane. I'm no cheap, crooked politician, trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes—

Charles hates to think that he and Gettys are similar in any way. In his mind, he's completely different from the crooked politicians who spent most of their time in office covering up their crimes. He thinks of himself as a sort of messiah, but he's no good to anyone if he can't get his ego under control.

EMILY: Why should anyone vote for him? He's made it quite clear to the people what he thinks of them. Children—to be told one thing one day, something else the next, as the whim seizes him.

It doesn't take Emily long to see what's at the core of Charles Kane: pure pride. He thinks of all the other people in the world as little children who need to be told what to think.

BERNSTEIN: Mr. Kane is finishing your piece the way you started it.

When Leland wakes up from a drunken stupor, he thinks that Charles has taken his review to rewrite it. But on the contrary, Charles is going to finish the review just the way Leland wanted it. The reason for this is that he wants to show Leland that he's an honest person. But here's the thing—he still can only do something like this if he's the one controlling the typewriter. It's not like he lets Leland control the situation, which means that he still can't get over his pride.

KANE: If you're interested in what people say, Signor Matiste, I may be able to enlighten you a bit. The newspapers, for instance. I'm an authority on what the papers will say, Signor Matiste, because I own eight of them between here and San Francisco...

As far as Charles Kane is concerned, people will think whatever he tells them to think. After all, he owns the newspapers that people will use to get their opinions. And it takes an awful lot of arrogance to tell someone that you control what the public thinks.

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