Marshal Matt Dillon: Analysis of His Character
Marshal Matt Dillon is the fictional lead character in the famous television and radio series Gunsmoke. The television drama was directed by Norman MacDonnell and written by John Meston. The story of Marshal Dillon, played by James Arness in the television show and William Conrad in the radio series, is set in Dodge City, Kansas during the period of settlement of the American West. On the radio series, William Conrad played Marshal Dillon as one who had so much power and confidence in himself. He played the character in a darker and more violent manner compared to that of the television show. He was more masculine and more virile. On the other hand, Arness’ Marshal Dillon was more resigned and calm. Initially, of course, Arness’ portrayal was the same of that how Conrad portrayed the character. However, as the show went on, his character has evolved in so many ways that he became less violent and more understanding and tolerant of people’s behavior and attitudes, particularly their wrongdoings. Marshal Dillon’s character became more intuitive and considerate of people’s dissenting opinions. He became wiser as he grew older. Nevertheless, if the situation called for it, he still resorted to fighting for what is right and just and for the people.
Probably, the best adjectives that could describe Marshal Dillon (whether in the television or radio series) were his attributes of steadfastness, honesty, and dedication. He was a man of justice and order. All of these characteristics played a vital role in his portrayal of someone who values the law and the duty to serve and protect. If there was a lawman who was definitely incorruptible, he would probably be the best candidate that there is to deserve the title. While he resorted to violence most of the time, he rarely acted in an impulsive and reckless way. He was always fair and impartial when it came to the fulfillment of his duties and obligations as a U.S. Marshal. He was literally the epitome of a law enforcement officer whose motto in life was to serve and protect.
Marshal Dillon was steadfast. He was committed not only to his job but also to the people he promised to serve and protect. His objective was to preserve the law and retain the genuineness of it. He wanted no corruption at all and he had always desired the protection of the people. While he had his own misdealing and unwanted adventures in the past, the present is what is more important to him. He fought for anyone who was underprivileged and unfairly treated. He valued the rights of people the way he valued his own. He believed in the principle of fairness and equality, which made him offer so much of himself to providing protection and safety. He was also notable for his compassionate characteristic, especially to those people who had been victims of crimes and meaningless violence. He showed great sympathy toward those who were left behind by people who were victims of illicit transgressions and bad behavior. He made his comfort available to those who were in need and in great danger. He became a superhero, an inspiration, and a role model to most people.
However, as the old saying goes, nobody is ever perfect; thus, Marshal Dillon also had his shortcomings and wrongdoings. He was always so abrupt and violent toward people who seemed to be troublemakers. On rare occasions, he would quickly impede harsh treatments to those who questioned and challenged his authority, particularly in public. He had a gun, which he always carried to serve as a message to people that he could not easily be tamed and intimidated. As he was protective of the people around him, he was also protective of himself and his reputation. It is not that he wanted fame nor popularity and money. He just wanted to be respected for what he is true – a U.S. Marshal.
He was a bit less cautious at the beginning of the story because of his violent nature, but as the show went on, he became more aware of his actions. When the need to confront someone arises, Marshal Dillon stayed calm and steady. If there is no chaotic possibility, he would not dare to be involved. He would not dare to even start one. He had so much respect for people, and people had so much respect in him. It was one of his main virtues in life – to gain respect, you must first give the same. There were actually a lot of scenes when this trait of him was very obvious and visible.
Marshal Dillon was also a man of trust. Aside from respect, he had so much trust in people, that most of the times, he was already being abused by others. Even when no one believes, he would be that one person who will go through it all just to defend you, assuming he had known you for so long, of course. I guess this is one really rare trait of a person – to trust and be trusted even when no one seems to believe in both of you anymore. In plain words, he was the exact combination of tough and soft, of smooth and rough – the perfect mixture of a refined yet strong personality. One who is feared, but knows the word fear and how to feel. One who is respected and trusted because he knows how to give the same exact amount of trust and respect.
Considered as one of the best fictional American heroes in the history of television, Marshall Dillon represents the ideals and virtues of American culture. He is even regarded as one of America’s most favorite TV show characters. Conrad and Arness really did a great job in giving justice to his character. He was a role model to each and every American – a man of incomparable fine and admirable qualities. He became an inspiration to every American citizen – to become better and stronger, but also to never let their guard down. He was the perfect definition of patriotism and loyalty. If there was anything he was not good at, he quickly recuperates such by still, being a good man despite the violence and aggressiveness he possessed. In my opinion, Marshal Dillon should not just be a role model to other Americans. He should also be someone to be looked up to by a lot of other people, even in other countries. His love for his nation, his dedication, and his incomparable traits of respectfulness, compassion, steadfastness, and bravery should be an inspiration to all in their every endeavor.