Arthur Shelby is a capable enforcer for the Peaky Blinders. However, he isn’t just good at fighting. He says smart things on the regular too.
In Peaky Blinders, Arthur Shelby is mostly known for his rather unique voice. He also stands out as the most violent member of the Shelby family. The Deputy Vice President of Shelby Company Limited, as well as Tommy’s right-hand man, is always portrayed as unintelligent but whenever force needs to be applied, he steps up.
Arthur’s guttural voice tends to amplify his words, making them even harder to forget. However, it isn’t just the voice that makes Arthur’s lines iconic. The first among the Shelby siblings normally knows just the right thing to say at any given time. He might not be right but he sure will say it with confidence.
“I’m A Good Man. But My Hands… These Hands Belong To The Devil.”
Linda once disappears and everyone (including Tommy) gets worried because she had been acting strangely prior to that. Tommy soon finds out that a man is hiding her and gives his location to Arthur. When the man refuses to say where Linda is, Arthur assaults him before slicing him with the razor in his cap.
Even though it was non-existent in the earlier seasons, Arthur’s regretful nature becomes more and more profound as the series progresses. Here, he regrets killing a man just to get the location of a wife who doesn’t even want him. He also exhibits delusion by thinking that he is actually a good man yet he is one of the characters with the highest kill counts on the show.
“This Place Is Under New Management By Order Of The Peaky Blinders.”
Those in the list of Tommy Shelby’s greatest enemies never know peace and Darby Sabini learns this the hard way when Arthur leads his men in destroying one of his businesses, the Eden Club. He assaults the manager before declaring that the nightspot now belongs to the Peaky Blinders.
It’s one of the moments that popularize the phrase “By order of the Peaky Blinders,” and the declaration is made even more iconic by Arthur’s gruff voice. Arthur has every right to destroy and take over Sabini’s cherished business since the crime boss showed little respect by having his men assault Tommy.
“I Heard The Blackbird Sing.”
Vicente Changretta pays the price for organizing the shooting of Grace Shelby. Initially, Tommy plans to torture him the whole night until the blackbird sings at dawn before killing him. Instead, an angry Arthur decides to shoot him before declaring that he has heard the blackbird sing in his head.
Arthur’s inability to remain patient and calm has always been a problem in the Shelby family. In a show like this, Arthur’s actions feel like ruining the fun since it’s obvious that Vicente deserves severe punishment for the troubles he has caused. Shooting him feels like giving him an easy way out.
“Who Wants To Be In Heaven When You Can Be Sending Men To F****G Hell?”
When Father Hughes orders the Peaky Blinders to blow up the train in order to set up the Russians, Arthur is hesitant to do it at first. John offers to do it but Arthur again insists on doing it, saying he won’t worry about going to heaven.
Watching Arthur develop a conscience is a bit surprising because he’s never been known to shy away from moments that involve committing violent acts. Like any other gangster, the older Shelby sibling is also keen on not being seen as weak as it might ruin his reputation, hence the reason he quickly insists on going through with the task when John offers to do it.
“Fast Women And Slow Horses Will Ruin Your Life.”
Arthur has some advice for Tommy when he learns that he is eyeing Grace. He suggests that he remains single and focuses on getting the best horses for the races, a sport in which the Shelby family has invested heavily.
Tommy has never been known to value Arthur’s opinion since he doesn’t consider him wise but he heeds his advice regarding the horses. The one about women is ignored since Tommy falls even deeper in love with Grace. His choice comes back to bite him since Grace, who is working undercover for the Royal Irish Constabulary, reveals where is hiding the government weapons.
“I Know Who I Am, Linda. I Know Who I Am And I’m Alright With It.”
Linda soon grows disgruntled about Arthur not being the big boss of the Shelby Company Limited. She feels Tommy is using Arthur so she suggests that he does something about it. Arthur doesn’t agree.
The trope of the wife manipulating her low-level gangster husband to become boss is common in movies and TV shows. The best example of it is seen in The Sopranos where Janice tries to manipulate her fiance Richie to overthrow Tony. Luckily for Tommy, Arthur’s loyalty to him is far superior to anyone else’s so he doesn’t even consider it.
“You See, Ladies? When You’re Out With A Blinder, You Don’t Have To Queue.”
In the pilot episode, Arthur takes two women to the cinema and skips the line. Unfortunately, he gets arrested shortly after by Inspector Campbell who has been sent by Winston Churchill to recover government weapons.
Arthur’s words are similar to one of Henry Hill’s quotes in Goodfellas in which he takes his girlfriend Karen through the kitchen area of the Copacabana and tells her that it’s better than waiting in line. Right after Arthur says these words, viewers are reminded that even though a life of crime has its perks, the joy is short-lived. Arthur doesn’t even get to enjoy the movie after cutting the line. Campbell captures and tortures him.
“My Heart Is A Battered Vessel, But Within, There Still Beats A Fluttering Pulse Of A Dream.”
Arthur is excited when the deadbeat Shelby father Arthur Sr. shows up and claims to have a major business opportunity in mind that they all can benefit from. Arthur believes him and gives him funds, confessing how he still dreams of being a successful business.
While the quote is beautiful, it highlights Arthur’s lack of intelligence. Arthur Sr. is conning him but he doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. Arthur has never been as perceptive as his brother Tommy and it keeps showing. His generosity towards his father also causes another problem. It’s his lie that he’s taking the money to Danny Whizz-Bang that makes Grace realize that the government guns that Campbell is after are indeed buried in Whizz-Bang’s fake grave.
“I’m Emotional, I Just Don’t Know What F***G Emotion It Is.”
Shortly after Arthur survives being hanged at Winson Green Prison, Ada pays him a visit. She doesn’t like his expressionless face so she tells him to act like he’s at least excited to see her.
Arthur’s confusion about how exactly he’s supposed to feel makes sense given the chaotic events that have preceded Ada’s visit. Just a few hours earlier, it felt like a certainty that he would die. This has made him reflect on his own life too as he has realized he not only made reckless decisions but also doesn’t have as many friends as he thought he did.
“If You’re Going To Use It, You Better Point That Thing At My Head. That’s Where The Trouble Is.”
Arthur doesn’t seem too scared when he is confronted by a grieving mother pointing a gun at him. He advises her to point the weapon at his head instead of his abdomen.
The eldest of the Shelby siblings is indeed aware that he is the wildest member of the family. Having seen much death around him, he isn’t afraid of going to the afterlife either. He understands that the destiny of every gangster is either jail or the grave. Luckily for him, the grieving mother isn’t a killer like him.
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