Memento Character Analysis and Comparison – Term Paper

A real life story usually motivates Movies, songs, poems and other forms of art. They are used as media to depict to the audience a theme or issue that is happening in real life. Whereas most people take it as pure entertainment, those who are keen enough and have an amazing eye for detail can find the link between the artist’s real life and the movie. Such people are in a better position to understand and explain the events that led to the creation of a film. Although the plot and characters used in the art may not be anything like real life characters, a lot of inspiration and synopsis is based on real-time events. The movie “Memento” is one of such films. This paper is going to discuss the similarities between Henry Molaison abbreviated as H.M. and Memento’s leading actor, Leonard Shelby.

1. Both Characters Suffer Memory Disorder

The first and most obvious similarity are that they both suffer a memory disorder. In the movie Memento, Leonard’s symptoms are suggestive of anterograde amnesia. On the other hand, Molaison, was an American patient who suffered from memory disorder and was widely used as a study case. Many theories were developed based on his case and scholars used him to try and establish the link between memory and function. In the movie Memento, Leonard plays the role of an insurance investigator and suffers from the same memory loss which significantly hinders his current mission which is to find and kill the murderer of his wife. There are a few people who help Leonard in his personal mission, but then again, they have to start each time afresh because every time that Leonard meets them, he has no idea who they are. Anterograde amnesia is a medical condition that is associated with memory loss after an individual event, and unfortunately, both Leonard and Molaison suffered from it.

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2. Head Injury as a cause of Memory Disorder

The second similarity is the cause of the memory disorder. Leonard developed the condition after sustaining a head injury on the day his wife was murdered. He had tried intervening on his wife’s murder by disrupting the murdered, but he was overpowered, and in the process, he got a head injury. Molaison, on the other hand, had developed the condition after sustaining a head injury through a bicycle accident at a tender age of seven.

3. Life Coming to a Standstill after the Accident

 Thirdly, both Molaison and Leonard had their life events stop progressing after the accidents. Molaison became dormant and unproductive in his childhood years and the better part of his youth. It was characterized by seizures and epilepsy-related incidences that stunted his growth significantly. Molaison spent most of his life in Windsor Locks care institute where he was used as a case study. Leonard’s life significantly stopped progressing when his wife was murdered, and he sustained a head injury that led to the memory loss. He was not in any capacity to continue with his old job and spent most of his time trying to join the dots of his wife’s murderer which was also shot in the dark.

4. The Past Memory Before Injury are Still Intact in Both

Both Leonard and Molaison remember clearly the events and their life stories before they sustain the head damage that leads to memory loss. Leonard knows who murdered his wife and all the events that took place in his wife’s murder. He also remembers his profession of insurance claim investigator. However, he is not able to remember day-to-day events and keep short term memory. Molaison was also able to answer questions asked of knowledge gained before 1953, but nothing after 1953 meaning old memory was sustained but impossible to keep new memories. 

5. Contribution of the Characters to the Society

Finally, both characters were used by those around them beneficially. Molaison condition contributed to science and brought new insight to understanding the human memory. Leonard is also used negatively by Teddy and Natalie. Teddy is a corrupt cop who uses Leonard’s condition for personal financial gains while Natalie, a barmaid, is on a personal mission to seek revenge on her boyfriend’s death and uses Leonard to achieve this.