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The Anti-hero: Describing Rick In Casablanca

Rick is a gentle man with strong moral values and a good heart. He displays certain qualities and acts that may lead people to assume he’s evil, but he’s not like his cowardly counterparts. Casablanca’s beginning may portray him as detached and cynical, detached from both the traumatising happenings around him and from others. His strong moral compass shines through and he proves that he is a true sentimentalist. Rick seems almost angelic when Rick sees their weak, untrustworthy ways.

Rick first resists helping a poor couple from Bulgaria looking for a way out of the uncertainty that is Casablanca. He quickly realizes that his idealistic side wins out, and he lets his husband play roulette to save him from the city’s fearful grasp. Rick’s actions prove that Rick is not a terrible person. He would have struggled to roll over faster than Rick. While it is clear that Rick could be savagely sardonic and possess a jaded exterior, Rick’s compassionate inner core shines through so often in the film that it is hard to call Rick contemptible. As Ilsa and Rick fall in love, we see his loving, gentle side. Paris’ man had bright eyes, smiles and was happy. Paris shows that despite being brokenhearted and suffering from the horrors of war, he is capable of loving and being loved. He does something selfless and noble at the end of the film, helping Laszlo escape and continuing his heroic fight for freedom. He is a quick-witted man who isn’t a man of high moral standing. However, the film and his final scene reveal more about Louis than what is obvious. His actions demonstrate that he’s observant, curious and open to learning. His casual, stoic posture and his limp salute to Vichy France soldiers is indicative of his deceitful insouciance and flippancy. He will happily follow the orders and arrest Ugarte. But, clearly, he sees this opportunity to impress other officers and raise his profile. He closed Rick’s Cafe, claiming that gambling was not allowed. However, he happily took his winnings with him. It is clear that Louis is self-centered and indulgent in every desire. Rick, however, clearly sees the value in this character. And when he decided not to join in the German National Anthem, a crucial moment in the film it was clear that Louis wasn’t totally committed to Nazism. Louis’s final act of helping Rick escape Laszlo, despite the negative consequences on him, is a sign that he can still be admirable. His noble actions outweigh any selfish misdeeds.

Although Ilsa is not a particularly unpleasant character, her frustrations and fence sitting make her more unlikable than Rick and Louis combined. She may act in Paris for Laszlo’s sake, but Casablanca is not the best place for her to be. As they contemplate their fates, she calls out to Rick “You have to think for us both” and displays a lackluster resolve and inability to make a coherent thought. Although she is willing to let her husband go, she doesn’t want to be dependent on him for her selfish needs. With her cold expressions, haughty posture and distant gaze, she can also be detached from Casablanca. Ilsa’s arrogance is unsettling because she lacks the ability to help herself and has emotional instability.

Louis and Ilsa are better than Rick, but Rick is clearly the antagonist. He’s a miserable, sweaty Italian shyster. Ugarte immediately strikes us as corrupt and shady, with his clothes and hair too oily. He is known for his parasitic tendencies, as he takes civilians in exchange for letters of transport. He is a smuggler who sniffs out weak and disreputable Ricks in all possible ways. His smile moves smugly around his mouth, a metaphor of Rick’s way of asking questions – in deceitful ways. Ugarte is easy for people to “hate” and has perhaps the worst qualities in Casablanca.

In the end, Casablanca’s tension brought out worst in everyone. Rick, despite his good intentions, was far superior to the rest of his supporting cast. The “crazy universe” around them turned Ilsa, Louis, Ugarte into far more disgraceful characters than Rick, regardless of whether they were weak or were corrupted from the war.


Josh Wright is a 34-year-old educational blogger and school teacher who has been working in the field for over a decade. He has written extensively on a variety of educational topics, and is passionate about helping others achieve their educational goals.