"Citizen Kane" is a story of failure brought about by success

Essay by husskA, June 2006

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"Citizen Kane is the story of failure brought about by success." The protagonist, Charles Foster Kane's, success as a public figure is what leads to his failure as a private one. He becomes an individual who simply cannot maintain any private relationships. He ends up a lonely figure whose story evokes pity.

As a child, Kane lives a happy life with his parents. We see him playing joyfully in the snow. Unfortunately for him, a defaulted boarder gives his mother a fortune and this potentially enormous wealth is given to Kane. This is the first success in his life and his resistance to leave foreshadows the bad consequences of this money. Even though this wealth had been attained by mere luck, it leads him to all his other successes in life. In turn, his success leads to his failure. However, this failure is predominantly an emotional one.

"Greatest newspaper tycoon of this or any other generation."

This is what Kane becomes. A successful public figure and a household name. The magnitude of his achievements is huge. His empire consists of thirty-seven newspapers, thirteen magazines and a radio station. He marries the president's niece and this is yet another success. His ambition for his newspaper to be the best in the world comes true. He also builds himself a paradisal estate - Xanadu, a world of his own.

All of these are examples of the success Kane achieves publicly. He is indeed a success in the material world and becomes a very influential person. However, the success in his material life is what brings his failure in his spiritual and emotional lives. Due to his wealth he becomes an arrogant and egotistic human being. A person for whom real emotion seems impossible. He loses the ability to love or be...