Chaplin’s Dog

This is a term I use to explain a principle of story telling and characterization. At the begining of one of his films, Charlie Chaplin is walking through a large crowd of people. He stops and pats a stray dog, a very friendly, cheerful mutt; in fact not so unlike himself. Then he continues on his way, and we never see the dog again. But in that short moment, the dog and Chaplin have done their job. In an instant, Chaplin's character has been established as sympathetic.

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Jonathan Paul Cook © 2010