The key-note of the epic movie Braveheart, which depicts William Wallace, the warrior who leads the Scots in their revolt against English reign, whose life and death inspire thousands of his countrymen to fight for their rights, is the struggle for freedom. The oppression the people of Scotland experience because of unjust laws instilled by King Edward I of England ("Longshanks") results in many personal tragedies of the commoners. However, patience cant last forever and one personal tragedy multiplied by the infinity of the nations sufferings leads to a desperate fight for independence, which shakes the entire Britain.
Young William Wallace experiences the injustice, which rules in his country, early in his childhood, when his father and brother are murdered by King Edwards henchmen. This event leads to a major change in the boys life, both inwardly and outwardly. Left without kinsfolk and means for existence, he is forced to leave his home together with his uncle, who from then on takes care of the child. Grief and hatred are born in Williams heart, as well as the desire to fight back and protect what is dear to him. Remembering his fathers parting words (I know you can fight. But it's our wits that make us men. (Braveheart), which are reinforced by his uncles desire to educate the youngster, he learns to use his intellect before his sword.
It is not until William is a grown up man that he returns to his homeland. The young mans dreams are simple: to marry Murron, the girl who gave him a flower and her silent support at his fathers funeral. I came back home to raise crops and, God willing, a family. If I can live in peace, I will. (Braveheart) are the words with which he refuses participating in an anti-English secret meeting. But the fate has decreed otherwise and his simple dreams were not destined to come true.
At this time English nobility are granted another privilege aimed at breeding out the Scots Primae noctis the right to spend the first wedding night with any woman who marries a Scotsman. This only increases the humiliation the Scots suffer and unties the hands of English lords in their outrage against simple people. English aristocracy is now allowed to kill everyone who disobeys this rule, even though the defiance in this case is just a heartfelt human desire to protect happiness and normal family life. Married in secret due to the unwillingness to share their nuptial bed with anyone else, William and Murron do not enjoy their honeymoon for long. An insolent English soldier, confident in his impunity, attempts to rape Murron and is decisively repulsed when Wallace tries to protect his wife and urges her to escape in a vague hope to build a peaceful life elsewhere. Yet, the woman is captured and sentenced by the Magistrate to be executed on the spot. All of you know full well, the great pains I've always taken never to be too strict, too rigid with the application of our laws, and as a consequence, have we not learned to live together in relative peace and harmony, huh?... Well you leave me with little choice. An assault on the king's soldiers is the same as an assault on the king himself (Braveheart). These words are spoken by the Magistrate to justify his verdict. However, everyone around and himself fully realize that the peace and harmony he refers to are nothing more than an illusion, that the Scots simply tolerate the English oppression with their teeth clenched until it oversteps the limits of their patience. And the slaughtering of Murron becomes the last drop to fill up the cup and provoke a spontaneous, but a quite predictable revolt.
From the moment Williams wife is murdered, the man knows exactly what he has to do fight back. The loss of his only love combined with early memories of his childhood the killing of his father and brother arouse endless sorrow, frustration and anger, calling for revenge. But it is not only revenge that drives the brave-hearted warrior when he cuts the Magistrates throat in the same manner Murron was killed. He fully realizes that his dream of a peaceful life of a farmer, of raising family and kids is unachievable under the fierce governing of King Edward "Longshanks" and oppressive laws he imposes on the Scots. Struggle for freedom becomes the major driving force of Wallaces life. Williams fellowmen, indignant at the English tyranny, eagerly recognize the young impassioned man as their leader, thus starting the so-called First War of Scottish Independence, which raged in Britain for over thirty years (Stewart).
But what kind of a leader is William Wallace? Brave, passionate, charismatic, far-seeing, a great military strategist, he thinks in the first place about his people. When the rebellion starts, he tells the MacGregor clan that wants to join it: Go home. Some of us are in this; can't help that, now. But you can help yourselves. Go home (Braveheart). He does not want his countrymen to get killed, but understands their intention to protect their homes and families. (We'll have no homes left when the English garrison from the castle comes through and burns us out ( Braveheart). A skillful orator, William infects his fellow-fighters with his patriotism, inspiring them, revealing the hidden courage in their hearts. Thus, he addresses the Scottish soldiers at Stirling, who are about to run from the battlefield, frightened of superior forces of Englishmen: Fight and you may die. Run and you'll live at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom (Braveheart)! The army then rushes into the battle and wins; this victory followed by others not less glorious, such as the destruction of the city of York.
King Edward Longshanks recognizes William Wallace as a worthy rival who cannot be easily defeated and must be reckoned with. He understands this upspring will not be crushed without difficulty and sends his daughter-in-law, Princess Isabelle, to bribe the Scottish leader. The king desires peace, she says to the man, He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold (Braveheart). Yet, no money or power in the eyes of the brave Scot can outweigh the yearning to liberate his nation from slavery. William declines the Princesss offer and with this earns her respect and admiration, which afterwards grows into affection. Isabelle helps him to flee from King Edwards trap and eventually makes love to him, bearing his child.
However, not everyone in Wallaces surroundings is as altruistic, deprived of greediness, concerned with the destiny of the Scots and captured by the idea of freedom. The majority of Scottish noblemen, Williams allies, headed by Robert the Bruce, the Scottish noble who is next in line for the Scottish throne (Gay), only pretend they care for the people and in reality do nothing but talk, concerned only about keeping their welfare, castles and lands.
Robert the Bruce appears to be the most controversial figure of the story. On one hand, he is captured by William Wallaces deeds and beliefs: He doesn't even have a knighthood. But he fights, with passion, and he inspires (Braveheart). Robert wants to do what is right and lead the people to their freedom; moreover, he has the authority to do this. Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don't follow titles, they follow courage. Now our people know you. Noble, and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to freedom, they'd follow you. And so would I (Braveheart), William once tells the Bruce. Yet, Roberts father, who has a great influence on him, has a different opinion on the course of actions his son should follow. Roberts old man tells him to do whatever it takes to keep his title, possessions and land, which means lying, breaking promises and betraying. These immoralities are inconsequent (Gay). Suffering from his personal drama, torn apart between his duty and his fathers ambitions, the Bruce makes wrong choices which he afterwards deeply regrets: he, together with two other noblemen, betrays William Wallace, the man he admires so much, during the battle of Falkirk which causes the defeat of the Scots in their uprising for freedom. In his attempt to make up for the losses Williams army has suffered, Robert defies the influence of his father and offers the brave Scot help once again and this time he intends to keep his word. But the Bruces father plots behind his back and the Scottish leader is taken prisoner and sentenced to execution.
Knowing that one will die soon, and the most painful and terrible death too, can break many and make them beg for mercy for a slight chance to avoid such fate. William Wallace is given a choice to bow down to the English king and to receive a painless death through beheading or to be tortured, purified by pain (Braveheart). However, the brave warrior refuses to give up his beliefs as it would mean that everything that he had lived and struggled for was meaningless, that thousands of his countrymen had died in vain. Williams entire life is manifested by his words: Every man dies, not every man really lives (Braveheart). And the hero faces his death as bravely as he had lived, with honor, dignity and allegiance to his ideas. Even whilst being half hanged, racked, and disemboweled, with the crowd chanting one word Mercy, he refuses to submit to the King of England, gathers his strength in his last shout Freedom. And in this word is the essence of the great heros life. In the end, Wallaces inspirational life and noble death invigorates Robert the Bruce to dismiss all doubts and do as he must continue with the struggle for liberation of Scotland, in which he eventually wins and becomes the King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329 (Pettinger).
The epoch-making revolt, led by the Scottish national hero William Wallace is triggered by a seemingly minor in the course of history event the murder of his wife by an English landlord. However, the brave Scots personal drama catches on with sentiments of thousands of his fellow countrymen, suffering from foreign oppressors and willing to protect their homes and families. With his life and even with his death the brave-hearted Scotsman proves that freedom is the highest value, more important than money and power, and inspires his people to continue their struggle until the war is won.
Gay, John. "Why the Main Character of Braveheart Is Not William Wallace." www.leaderu.com/humanities/braveheart.html.
Braveheart. Directed by Mel Gibson, performances by Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Sophie Marceau, and Catherine McCormack, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, 1995.
Pettinger, Tejvan. "Robert the Bruce Biography Biography Online." Biography Online, www.biographyonline.net/military/robert-the-bruce.html. Accessed 16 Jan. 2013.
Stewart, Ebony. "The First War of Scottish Independence." Yur Topic, www.yurtopic.com/society/history/scottish-independence.html. Accessed 18 May 2013.
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