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Chancellor (The Twilight Zone)

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The Chancellor is the primary antagonist in the Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man.” He was played by Fritz Weaver.

“We shall see how this obsolete man, this librarian, dies!”

The ruler of a totalitarian America, he was’t given a specific name in the episode. Nevertheless, the Chancellor was sentencing librarian/minister Romney Wordsworth to death after classifying him as obsolete. Although Wordsworth claims that God exists, the Chancellor stubbornly denied “The State has proven that there is no God!” Also, books were banned and therefore, there is little use for the services of a librarian. After being sentenced, Wordsworth had two requests: to be given an assassin to divulge the method of execution to and televise the execution. Thinking it has an educative effect on the population, the Chancellor grants both requests.

Later on, the Chancellor was invited to Wordsworth’s room. Unbeknowst to him, however, Wordsworth locked the door behind his back. The Chancellor wanted to assure Wordsworth that he had a life that is meaningless and wants to tell him that the State is not afraid of an obsolete librarian. The Chancellor admitted that there were predecessors who had the right idea such as Adolf HItler and Joseph Stalin but they did not go far enough. Soon after, the Chancellor realizes what Wordsworth has done and attempts to call for help because a bomb was going off at midnight which is in a matter of minutes. The Chancellor was told that the act of rescue would be very demeaning to the State. He realized that he underestimated Wordsworth. He wanted the whole world to see how a librarian dies but it was part of an act to let the nation see how an officer of the State dies, too. Wordsworth was reading his Bible as time flies by while the Chancellor was being increasingly terrified. Almost a minute from detonation, the Chancellor sobbed “In the name of God, let me out!” Wordworth let him out and stood tall as he faced his doom.

As for the Chancellor, his subaltern supplanted him and informed “You have disgraced the State. You have proven yourself a coward. You have therefore no function. You are obsolete!” Although the ex-Chancellor pleads to the State that he is not obsolete after the many years he worked for the State. The crowd overpowers and presumably killed him.

Rod Serling, the narrator, said that the Chancellor was obsolete but so was the State. “Any state, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity of man, that state is obsolete."

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