chapter  Seven
John Ford
Pages 24

In a widely influential essay written some half century ago, Stuart P. Sherman set the pattern which has shaped most subsequent criticism of John Ford. Sherman's views have been subject to some questioning in recent years, but Ford is still generally regarded as one whom, if not immoral himself, deliberately avoided the great moral issues of his age. Ford struggled as fully as his predecessors had struggled with the problem of man's position in the universe. The tragedy of Ford's heroes and heroines is in their inability to find a satisfactory alternative to sin. They can only die with courage and dignity. The paradox in Orgilus's position is implicit in the means of Ithocles's death. Orgilus must kill the friend he admires because honour demands it, but the manner of the killing involves a total forfeit of honour, for Orgilus stabs Ithocles while he is trapped by the 'engine' which renders him powerless.