While I generally agree with the theory of this article, the analysis of Unforgiven is so wrong.
To say that: “the desire of Clint Eastwood’s character was to provide a better life for his motherless children” is not the impetus of his character.
As a father of two young children, the fact that he leaves his children to go and run off into a violent confrontation on the basis of some gossip is not empathetic behavior. In fact, think about the most compelling evidence we see when his character is introduced.
He tries shooting at some cans and misses, finally relying on a shotgun to do the trick.
He falls trying to mount his horse.
This tells us he is no longer the man he once was. Can’t shoot or ride his horse like he used to. William Muny is driven (selfishly) to become the man he misses, his true self, the cold hearted killer even if it means he might die and orphan his children. Surely, he must know what a harsh would he is leaving them to - to fend for themselves, at the mercy of the elements, and a cruel world full of bad actors. And yet he’s willing to risk their lives so he can have just a taste of his former glory.
Now most of us can’t relate to someone who is a cold hearted killer but we all understand what its like to not be living out our true selves and this is what is compelling and relatable about him as a character. But hardly empathetic.