Role of Context in Espionage and Shaping Values

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Role of Context in Espionage and Shaping Values

By | July 2011
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In the world of Espionage, how do these texts demonstrate the role of context and the individual in shaping values?

In the nightmarish and brutal spy world it is often necessary to carry out certain actions to achieve a collective goal. In John Le Carre's novel 'Smiley's People' and Tony Scott's film 'Spy Game' there is collectivised action to fight against the opposition, possibly losing what they stand for and in doing so jeopardising the security of their countries by embodying this double standard in their Intelligence Services. As John Le Carre said “the things we must do to protect our country are making our country not worth protecting”. It is with these tense and brutal circumstances were the true colours of countries and people transpire, were the values that individuals hold dear are tested and the underlying themes of espionage are shown. Most noticeably the themes of moral relativism and the conflict between the personal and the professional stand out as lives are seen as the expected cost in the fight for the 'greater good'.

The fight for the 'greater good' is an integral part in espionage, both in real life experiences and in texts. In the two texts there is a belief that all is done for this greater good. Where the lies, deception and casualties are justified as a means to the greater end. This view underlines the theme of Moral Relativism and its value of the regard to human life. In Spy Game the brutality in espionage is highlighted as countries and men would sacrifice each other for the 'greater good'. In the film we see these recurring characteristics in Bishop being tortured, Hadley being abducted and suicide bombers attempting to kill a single terrorist. In particular during a meeting between Bishop and Muir, a heated argument occurs between them where Bishop tells Muir, “ ... we used him and we killed him ... Nathan, what are we doing here? And don't give me some bullshit about the greater good”. In which Muir blatantly replies, as...

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