Explaining Theodore’s Character

In the movie Her, the main character, Theodore, is a writer for the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. As the writer and director of Her, Spike Jonze knew that having Theodore’s occupation be a writer for the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company would add a facet to his character and incite a specific feeling in the audience. In the opening scene, Theodore reads aloud a heartfelt letter, which at first the audience believes is for his own lover, however, our expectations are thrown wayward when it becomes evident that the letter was written for a couple who had been married for fifty years. His words are genuine, passionate and penetrating, and for this he is his boss’s favorite letter writer.

Why is Theodore a letter writer? I feel the answer to this question correlates to why Theodore falls in love with his operating system, Samantha. Theodore is a romantic and has an affinity for words, but above all, Theodore is genuine. For this reason, Theodore’s character is able to fall in love with an operating system. The reason why humans have had relationships for the course of our existence stems from our need to reproduce and survive. Very rarely can someone form a relationship with the opposite sex, with the absence of reproduction or sexual pleasure. For this reason, Theodore romanticism is noteworthy exemplified through his affinity for words and love-letter writing. In his world of the omnipotence of technology, this sets Theodore apart and so it makes sense that his character would both be letter writer and fall in love with an operating system.

I think Theodore’s job as a writer of letters for other people is meant to be peculiar, and throw off the audience, all the while perfectly explain his actions. On first take, it is weird that someone would make a living by letters for other people. However, it makes sense that someone who can write a love letter for an anonymous person, a person who is not physically in front of him or can respond to his words, can create a romantic relationship with an operating system. Similar to in his love letters, when Theodore speaks to Samantha, he isn’t speaking to a physical person. Theodore’s job explains why he is able to connect with Samantha and form the relationship that he does.

The expected reaction of bewilderment is not unexpected, yet neither is the reason why Theodore’s occupation is what it is. The character that Spike Jonze creates in Theodore perfectly explains why his occupation is a writer for the Beautifully Handwritten Letters Company. Although his actions are off-putting, Theodore’s environment, surroundings, and occupation pave the way for his relationship with Samantha. My perspective may differ from the norm, however I can see why Theodore makes the decisions he does, and this is explained by his character.

Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaqin Phoenix, Amy McAdams, Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures, 2013. Film.

One thought on “Explaining Theodore’s Character

  1. I really like your writing style. The way you speak to your audience shows that you clearly watched the movie and know why Theodore does what he does. When I saw the movie, like you, I thought that Theodore was writing the letter himself to someone he loved/was married to. Once it dawned upon me that he was writing a letter for someone else the meaningful-ness of it significantly decreased. I agree with your reasoning on why Jonze chose to give Theodore this job. It aligns with the idea that the world he lives in is a world without face to face communication. It is no longer personable. People pay to have their letters written by someone else as well as using their technology for anything and everything. Hopefully our world never comes to this and human connection stays in tact. Overall really good post!


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