Iconographic Elements of the Western Genre

 

1.         setting

 

            a.         Modes of transportation:  the stagecoach itself as an emblem of progress, expansion

            b.         towns:  their presentation, functions, characteristics

            c.         Indians

 

2.         the frontier as a meeting of old and new sets off a resulting series of oppositions

 

                                    East                                        West

 

                                    culture                                   nature

                                    past                                        future

 

                                    community                           individuality

                                    law                                          practicality

 

                                    "refinement"                        "savagery"

 

3.         the hero:  his/her acts validate possibilities the frontier stands for

 

            a.         characteristics and functions:  his/her image; relation to society

            b.         evolution of the notion of heroism

 

4.         the law:  codes (civil; criminal; moral)

 

            a.         representatives

            b.         values underlying the law

 

5.         society

 

            a.         "types" in Ford films (as opposed to "stereotypes")

            b.         social arenas:  what defines them; functions

            c.         social rituals and the community:  means of emphasis and significance in Ford's essentially rational view of society