Character Dignity

9 September 2016

The Colonel is a white man who fights the bigotry of the enemy, who have vowed to kill any officers who lead the troops and by his own commanding officers who have kept them out of the war to do their dirty work. Colonel Shaw starts the War eager and zealous for the fight, the battle of Antietam leaves his disillusioned and wounded. Synopsis Robert Shaw grew up in a life of wealth and privilege in Boston. He was raised in a home that valued character, dignity and self-respect.

His family had personal and political connections with then Governor John Andrew and President Abraham Lincoln. The enemy is not only the Confederate Army but the northern whites who have resisted allowing blacks to fight for their freedom and emancipation. The Colonel puts Major Cabot Forbes, his best friend, in as his second in command. The men are drilled by the sadistic Sargent Major Mulcahy who breaks them with savagery and disrespect. The Colonel turns a blind eye to the treatment of the black soldiers.

Character Dignity Essay Example

One of the first recruits is a friend of Robert and Cabot, Thomas Searles. Cabot reminds Robert that Thomas is their friend and he needs to stop the Running Header: CHARACTER, DIGNITY and SELF-RESPECT 3 harsh treatment of the recruits. Robert is hardened by what he has seen and experienced at the battle of Antietam and stands coldly on Army protocol. Robert slowly comes back to his true character and begins to see his men as human beings. He begins fighting for them, getting needed supplies and eventually the right to fight for their freedom.

There first brush with the Confederate Army is successful after initially faltering in the first skirmish. Robert volunteers the 54th infantry for a charge upon Fort Wagner, which has never been taken. Robert inspires his men to lead the fight when other units do not volunteer to lead the charge to take the fort. They charge into a battle that traps them under heavy cannon fire and the shore. Robert is shot and killed as he rallies the men forward on to the fight. His men continue on in the fight and die as they charge the parapet of the fort.

Many casualties occur and Fort Wagner is never taken. The end shows Robert being thrown into a sandpit and buried with his men. Ethical Theories According to the Sommers’ text Aristotle defined happiness as an activity we can do better than anything else, and to exercise their capacity to reason is a virtue (Sommers, C. & Sommers, F. 2010). Reason plays a part in all virtues and courageous persons use it to control fear. After Robert returned from the battle at Antietam he had a temporary change of character, most likely it was post-traumatic stress from the battle.

As he got to know the men in his unit and saw their desire and determination to become good soldiers in order to fight for their freedom his character began to return. Running Header: CHARACTER, DIGNITY and SELF-RESPECT 4 You could see this change as he began to care for and fight for the things his men needed. He chaffed at the bigotry and discrimination displayed by the Army Command and began to see and treat the men differently. Based on the teachings of Epictetus Robert had the inner strength to do the right thing when it came to the command of his men.

Epictetus taught that “regardless of circumstances, human beings are capable of dignity and self-control” ( Rachels, J. & Rachels, S. 2012). Humans also had the power to control their response to circumstances even though they could not control the outside world based on inner strength. The situation that comes to mind during the movie was when Robert was dining with the other officers and they were making derogatory remarks about the men in his command. (Fields, F. (Producer), Zwick, E. (Director), 1989).

The more the officers abused and put down his men, the madder Robert got and he finally got up and left the dining hall. “Saint Augustine distrusted reason and believed that moral goodness depends on subordinating oneself to the will of God” ( Rachels, J. & Rachels, S. 2012). Robert was raised in a home that was moral, patriotic; character driven and likely had a rich religious background. Duty to one’s Country and God were in their life and character’s. Conclusion Robert was raised in a home where values and character were important parts of daily life.

Even though they were wealthy they valued all people, Robert had a friend who was black. When Thomas was shot in the battle at Antietam Robert forgot his rank Running Header: CHARACTER, DIGNITY and SELF-RESPECT 5 and went to his side. The obstacles that were overcome were discrimination and hatred. Robert was willing to share in the hardships of the black soldiers and choose not to take pay if his men chose not to in protest of the decrease in pay.

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