Making Ethical Decisions
Ethics is a philosophical characteristic that relates to the moralities of human beings and the moral principles that govern one's behavior. Ethics are a person’s morals that govern their behavior, while the morals are the specific standards that cause them to (re)act. For example, being ethical could mean following certain laws of a society, or religious beliefs. The definition of what being ethical may be is subjective to what culture or society somebody is from. Ethics can also be defined as a person’s conscience in relation to the concepts of right versus wrong and good versus evil. In many cases in literature, and beyond, people’s ethics do not and have not always been utilized in the right place, at the right time, or in a way that would affect a situation positively. This could mean that if an unethical person reacts in an unethical manner, they could inflict damage and harm a society. Furthermore, these situations that are affected by one's ethical decisions can impact loved ones and other people that may be involved. It is quite possible that ethics can also relate to one’s concern for moralistic behavior and attitude. This is shown very evident in Gabriel García Márquez’s novella, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, William Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure, through research published in academic journals, and through several events that have occurred over history.
One of the main themes of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is ethics in the context of honor and familial duty. From a familial duty standpoint, Angela was a character from the novel that had the ability to make a decision that was split between right and wrong. Specifically, Angela took part in premarital sex and therefore married as a non-virgin. In Columbia, at the time the novella is set in, the 1950s, premarital sex was seen as an unethical activity, and when someone acted in this manner, it was looked down upon. In doing this deed, Angela dishonored her family and failed to follow through with the duty given to her by her family. In many religions and cultures, families made the decision as to who their son or daughter was to marry (planned marriages). This situation leads to the next ethical decision that was made by Angela and her family. The duty that Angela had was to stay a virgin until she was married, and to marry into as high of a position in society as she could. If she didn't take part in intercourse before she was married, she would have fulfilled her family's duty. Someone who is not involved in this kind of culture can agree that it does not seem morally ethical in the first place that Angela was marrying a man just to put her family in a good financial and political position, even though the marriage was a contract between the two families for financial reasons. If a women and man are not in love, as shown by Angela and the man she would have married, then those two individuals should not be getting married at all. It is understood that in many societies and cultures, this is widely accepted; however from an ethical standpoint it just isn't correct. Of course, this ethical standpoint depends on the society and the rules or laws that are in place in that specific civilization.
Honor is portrayed as an important moral principle throughout much of the novella. The most notable aspect of honor in the story is the murder of Santiago Nasar. It was committed in order to gain back the integrity that Angela (and her family) lost due to the fact that she supposedly engaged in premarital sex with this man and the resulting failed marriage. Though it may seem that this action committed by the two Vicario brother's was the morally correct action to take, it was completely unethical. In this situation, most people nowadays would react in the same negative manner if they too found out that someone not only took their sisters virginity, but ruined a marriage as well, but possibly not to the same extent. However,...
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