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David Carter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325055

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325055.001.0001

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Cobb’s ‘Emotional Journey’: From Guilt to Redemption

Cobb’s ‘Emotional Journey’: From Guilt to Redemption

(p.79) 6. Cobb’s ‘Emotional Journey’: From Guilt to Redemption

David Carter

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates the development of Cobb's character in Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010). It reveals how Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) progresses from a haunted, guilt-ridden man through the major part of the film to becoming a man who has come to terms with what he has done and who has redeemed himself morally. The first hint that there is some unresolved emotional conflict in Cobb's mind comes with the first appearance of Mal. The audience later learns that she is an image created from his own unconscious, and by their nature such images, being inaccessible to conscious control, should be treated with suspicion. One can guess that some kind of guilt complex is causing Cobb to project this image of Mal. At the end of the film, Cobb has finally worked through and overcome his guilt, rid himself of his obsession with Mal, by recognising her as a shade, a poor imitation. The final ambiguous image in the film of the spinning top and Cobb's reunion with his children can be interpreted as implying that maybe it does not matter whether the scene is real or not. As Cobb realised and tried to convince Mal: it is the reality of the experience which is important.

Keywords:   Cobb, Christopher Nolan, Inception, emotional conflict, unconscious mind, guilt complex, reality

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