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The Kleptomaniac1905

  • 2.8
This condemnation of the class bias found in the American justice system works within a Progressive political framework. Porter juxtaposes the situations of two women. The impoverished woman is shown at home, in the context of her family. The barren room, the absence of a husband/provider, and the weighty responsibility of children who need care and are still too young to work elicit the viewer's understanding and sympathy. Mrs. Banker is denied the sympathetic context of family life, although the brownstone from which she emerges clearly indicates her social status. She, as the title indicates, has no motivation for shoplifting other than the thrill. Mrs. Banker goes inside a high-class emporium (Macy's) and steals some nonessential baubles under the noses of sales personnel. Her actions are clearly premeditated. In contrast, the poor woman, overwhelmed by temptation, steals food left outside and unattended. Her actions are spontaneous. Once arrested, the wealthy kleptomaniac is treated with a courtesy and leniency denied the more deserving mother. The details given in the Edison catalog are not always evident on screen; for instance, there is no reason to suppose the kleptomaniac is a banker's wife.

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