Stephen: Monsieur Candie’s Wife?

Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), seemingly not a slave, is the slave that the audience comes to meet three quarters of the way into ‘Django Unchained’. The specific moment where we’re introduced to Stephen, he doesn’t seem to be a slave, he talks back, even picks little fights with Calvin Candie as if they were a married couple. Stephen often disagrees with Calvin’s wishes or requests which just makes him seem like his wife, he always has a nit picky remark to say back but ultimately abides by his wishes. His demeanor with Calvin would get most other slaves whipped or beaten, however Stephen is a special case. The institution of slavery is depicted as a harsh, animalistic, degrading means of crop production and or house work, but Stephen seems to just be the black Calvin, basically making sure all the other slaves are doing what they need to be doing while he somewhat kicks back with the white folk.

Stephen is a special kind of slave. Stephen has been with Monsieur Candie(he prefers Monsieur Candie) since he was a young man. Stephen is extremely loyal to Calvin Candie. When Stephen notices Django’s intent of rescuing Broomhilda, he informs Calvin that he is being played. We are taught, in past history classes, to believe that all blacks, free or not, would be on each other’s side, however, Stephen chooses to shed light on Django and Dr. Schultz plan to buy Broomhilda’s freedom. It’s actually kind of a funny concept that Stephen, instead of Calvin or any of the other white people, picked up on the “offer to buy the whole barn as opposed to just the horse” concept Dr. Schultz and Django were implicating. This moment depicts Stephen’s loyalty and also makes a statement of the different levels of the institution of slavery. Also the fact that Stephen feels so comfortable as to pour himself a glass of wine or liquor in Calvin’s study shows he is no ordinary slave.


The Corrupt Hierarchy of Candyland’s Slaves

At the beginning of Django Unchained, it is revealed that Django Freeman is married to another slave; a woman named Broomhilda “Hildi” Von Shaft. Django’s love for Hildi is his motivation to partner up with Doctor King Schultz. Django and Hildi were purposely sold separately, as an act of punishment. If Django became Doc’s bounty hunter partner, Doc promised to help him find Hildi and give him a third of his bounty, therefore he agreed to be his partner. Soon it is revealed that Hildi was sold to Candyland, a cruel, relentless and corrupt slave plantation. Doc and Django immediately came up with ways to buy Hildi from Calvin Candie, the merciless owner of Candyland.

Promptly when Candyland was introduced into the movie, the social hierarchy between the slaves became clear. Stephen, Candie’s loyal slave and right hand man, is then made known. Evidently, he has more authority, power and freedom than the other slaves in Candyland. This is seen when Stephen stood next to Candie at the table with the other free men as if he is a part of them. He even uses the word “we” when referring to Candie’s methods of killing slaves. On the other hand, Hildi and the rest of the slaves live fearfully of Candie. They do everything they are told because they are frightened of getting whipped or fed to the dogs. Hildi and the rest of the slaves are treated inhumanely while Steven is not.

Stephen views Hildi and the other slaves as objects of ownership and not as human beings with emotions. He brutally puts the other slaves down in order to reaffirm his status of authority and prove his loyalty to his masters. For instance, the mischievous Stephen suggests to Candie to show off Hildi’s defiled back in order to enrage Django. At that moment, both Candie and Stephen harshly treated Hildi like a piece of art for everyone to see. In addition to that, when Stephen realized Django and Hildi’s love for each other, he immediately told Candie. As a slave, Stephen should know how heart breaking it is to be sold separately from a loved one. Therefore, the morally honorable and kind hearted thing to do would have been to let them be together. All in all, Django Unchained accurately illustrates the unethical and corrupt social hierarchy among the slaves in Candyland, notably evident in both Hildi and Stephen’s roles.



Calvin Candie is a bad man.

As Calvin Candie pulls Broomhilda’s hair, gropes her face and almost smashes her with a hammer while negotiating with Dr Schultz and Django, it shows how much he simply lives and breathes the lifestyle of being a slave owner. The commanding attitude of Mr Candie makes you hate him, yet his pure nastiness makes you sick to your stomach. As he exclaims “SOLD!” upon Broomhildas sale there is a sudden sigh of relief. Candie represents the ultimate slave master, and especially one who every viewer despises. The scene, which can be seen below, exemplifies slavery in its rawest form, and depicts Mr Candie as an awful human being, which he truly is,

Django Unchained depicts slavery in a comedic, yet overly-violent manner. Slavery themed movies usually promise the violence and gore, however very rarely do they incorporate comedic elements. In a way it almost makes a fool of slavery and completely disregards what slavery was, however in another way it doesn’t. For example during the negotiations in the scene described above, Candie aggressively states toward Dr. Schultz, “So what’s it gonna be Doc?!”, regarding the sale of Broomhilda. Dr Schultz humorously asks to take his hands of the table (which Candie had previously ordered them to do) so he could show the money for Broomhilda. This shows how the movie drastically changes from violence and gore to comedy in a split second. From anger to laughter in short succession. A similar incident happened when Dr Schultz shot Candie instead of shaking his hand. The comedic exchanges between the two led to an onrushing gunfight and blood shatter. Tarantino does an excellent job of collaborating both comedic and violent elements to form a somewhat serious, yet somewhat mockery movie of slavery. In the end though, Its Django’s incredible revenge and perseverance that essentially makes the movie what it is.


Django Freeman: A Man on a Horse

When Django rode into the town of Daughtry, Texas on a horse, the townspeople were horrified and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Horses were for white people, not slaves. What was this slave doing on a horse and what else will he do? To Dr. King Schultz, Django was just a man on a horse. He doesn’t show any type of discrimination towards Django. He even asked, “What’s everybody staring at?” As for Django, riding a horse is one of the first privileges of being a free man he is able to experience.  He acknowledges the fact that the people are staring at him and that it is strange for him to be on a horse.

At this point, Django is still skeptical about the intentions of Dr. King Schultz, the man who appears out of nowhere and puts him on that horse. He isn’t used to men like Dr. King Schultz treating him as an equal. This shows how much of an influence slavery has had on both sides, leaving each side cynical of the other. To the black people, white people were all vicious and oppressive, while to the white people, black people were meant to be owned and put to work. Because of slavery, society had become very close-minded. Even something as simple as a man on a horse evoked such an extreme reaction from the town.

Stephen: Defying the Stereotypical Slave Experience

When one thinks of the era of slavery during the 19th century a very clean cut situation is what comes to mind. A time in which it was simply black versus white, slave versus owner. We automatically imagine that all blacks were treated terribly by their masters and that all slaves must have hated their owners. We disregard the fact that of course all individual cases were different and that the experiences of all slaves were not one and the same.

The character of Stephen best portrays the variety of experiences and treatment that slaves faced. In one scene, Dr. King Schultz, Django, Calvin Candie, and others are seated at the dinner table. Stephen is standing at the head of the table crouched over Candie while an exchange is happening between Candie and Schultz. Candie replies to Schultz, “Well hell, I can’t imagine two weeks in Boston”. To this reply, Stephen bursts out laughing and begins to make exclamatory remarks. The fact that Stephen is allowed into the conversation of the white men shows that he has a sense of belonging and holds a very different place in the household and society than the other slaves who are barely allowed to look the masters in their eyes. Aside from this example, Stephen also advises Candie, bosses around other slaves, refers to Candie on first name basis, and sits at a desk while drinking liquor. All of these are examples of Stephen’s un-stereotypical and boundary breaking role.

Stephen’s role within the film of Django demonstrates a slave betraying those of his own race and turning the situation into a battle of power and status of individuals rather than the black versus white struggle which slavery is so often depicted as.

Django from Slavery to Capitalism

In my point of view, this film deals with changes in social class and capitalism throughout Django’s life. When Django was captured as a slave, what he had to worry about was his destination as a slave and what he had in his mind was anger to slavery. That is, he did not have any chance to know about where and how slavery came from. However, since he works together with Dr. King Schultz, Django gets to realize that money determines slavery and social class; furthermore, slavery also derives from the capitalism. As he gets to know more and more about how capitalism moves people’s mind, the recognition plays a big role in his life.

Even though there are some scenes that describe the procedures how Django earns money and utilize the money, the most representative scene is when he escapes from cage after he gave up to save his wife. Because he knew that the three guys who transport all the slaves including Django would like easy money by killing the wanted, utilizing their minds, he could have escaped from the cage and had another opportunity to save his wife and revenge all the people who have faith in slavery. Consequently, I believe the director seems to depict that the process that one person knows what money works in the society plays the most important role to break the slavery in the film.

Dr. King Schultz: A “Kind” Slave Owner?

The mentioning of a “kind slave owner” would make just about anyone turn their heads to make sure what they heard wasn’t just imagined. Being a slave owner has such a strong, negative connotation to it, that it seems rather odd and uncustomary for anyone to believe that it is possible to actually be a kind slave owner. Dr. King Schultz, however, ignored the traditionally harsh treatment of slaves and decided to treat his slave how he should be treated, like a human. Let it not be forgotten that Django, although referred to Dr. Schultz as a freed man, was still technically a slave until he helped Dr. Schultz collect his bounty. Only after the bounty was collected would Django be granted his freedom. But, that’s besides the point. In the movie, Dr. Schultz was shown to be sympathetic and have amity towards Django. He even went as far as sharing a drink and having a personal conversation with Django. Schultz was even willing to help Django be reunited with his wife. But Perhaps Dr. Schultz’s kindness towards Django was driven solely by his desire to attain the bounty and not because he genuinely is kind person. Money has the ability to push people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. In the movie, every encounter with a slave and slave owner had a motive behind it, whether it be the Mandingo fighting, or just to purchase a slave. Although Schultz’s motives aren’t clear, it is clear to see that he treats Django unlike every other slave owner introduced, leaving one to think about the sincerity of his friendship with Django.



Django Freeman The Apprentice Bounty Hunter

Being rescued from a life of slavery, Django was taken by Dr. King Schultz to identify three men for their bounties. Django progresses to become a freeman through Dr. King Schultz despite the negativity towards him because of his black skin. Upon arriving to a plantation riding a horse, which was not heard of Dr. King Schultz convinces the plantation owner to show Django around the field. Without Dr. Kings consent, Django tells his guide to lead him towards the three men. He kills one man, stating ” I like the way you die boy” for revenge from when Django was a slave. The same man told him, “I like the way you beg boy.” . Django then follows up to whipping the second man and following up with an execution.

Django has a pure hatred towards slave owners. He has a strong passion against whipping because his wife was whipped on Django’s mistake. When he saw that the slave owner was about to whip a slave, he probably was provoked into killing them instead of waiting on Dr. King Schultz. Right before Django executed the second man, he says “Ya’ll want to see something?”. Django took great pride in their deaths, but the slaves were shocked, not comprehending the situation. These slaves were so conditioned to forced behavior that they were too scared to feel relief.



Omnipotent Dr. King Schultz.

We cannot say that Dr. King Schultz is a sane person, also we cannot say that he is crazy, this is what makes him specific. Depends on a situation he knows how to behave and how to remain in peace. Dr. Schultz is an anti-slavery individual. He doesn’t follow crowd and authorities. He seems not to see any differences between slaves and normal citizens. When it comes to earn money in reward for Brittle Brothers, Dr. Schultz is able to kill anybody who stays on his way and get what he wants (typical go-getter). That’s why he kills Ace Speck.
Dr. Schultz frees Django without any major problems. He doesn’t want to take Django granted and took advantage of him. Both have an equal agreement one helps the other. There is no inequality between slave Django and Dr. Schultz. In order to indicate that Django is not a slave anymore Dr. Schultz calls him Django “Freeman”, he lets him ride a horse and behave as a regular citizen.
In a video below we can see how Dr. Schultz pours a drink for Django and treats him as a friend. Also, he is not indifferent towards Django’s wife fate and tries to help Django by stretching out his wife from Calvin Candie’s hands.
Django and dr. King Schultz