Audience identification with character: Empathising with the ‘Other’ in ‘The Shape of Water’

Del Toro’s Amphibian Man is the emotional centre of the story. Initially presented as the archetypal B-movie monster, lashing out at its captors, he is shaped into the romantic lead alongside Elisa, the first who recognises his humanity and refers to him as ‘him’. While a reptilian creature is not something an audience can relate to, the outsider who finds love and takes action is clearly identifiable. His natural curiosity, underdog vulnerability and love for Elisa endear us to him, until we see the soul beneath the scales of this strangely human character and empathise with the loneliness of those born different.



Del Toro, Guillermo. 2017. The Shape of Water [Film]