Miscellaneous / Theme From Schindler'S List -Virtue
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Autor: anton 05 January 2011
Words: 440 | Pages: 2
In the opening pages of Schindler's List, Keneally says explicitly that it is the story "of the pragmatic triumph of good over evil" and of the story of a man who is not "virtuous" in the customary sense. Writing about evil, he goes on to say, is fairly straightforward, but it is more risky and complex to write about virtue. The hero of the novel, Oskar Schindler, is complicated because he seems to be at once virtuous and immoral. Schindler is married but keeps house with his German mistress and maintains a long affair with his Polish secretary. He is outgoing and generous but has even greater personal indulgences, including good cigars and cognac. He excels in profiting from shady dealings, procuring goods from the black market and bribing officials, through which he saves his workers' lives. From the beginning of the novel, Schindler seems to treat the Jews he encounters with respect, but for a long time he seems oblivious to the cruelties they face, being more interested in his business than the political situation around him. Also, after the war, and after his heroic rescue of his Jewish workers, Schindler leads an unremarkable life: he does not do good works or act as a champion of the powerless, but rather he again cheats on his wife, spends money lavishly, fails at his business ventures, and bankrupts himself. Yet, he is honored by the Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority (Yad Vashem) Museum in Israel and declared a "Righteous Person." Perhaps the most difficult and interesting question raised by Schindler's List is, in fact, in what way Oskar Schindler is considered a "Righteous Person." Is he righteous simply because of his actions? His motivations? His personality?
Throughout the book, Keneally draws attention to the difficult nature of virtue (again, seen most obviously in the character of Schindler), to the not-so-obvious contrast between good and evil (Schindler is compared repeatedly to his "dark twin," the clearly evil Amon Goeth), and to what exactly constitutes morality. For example, the Austrian bureaucrat Szepessi has "a humane reputation even though he serviced the monstrous machine." Keneally also illustrates certain warped conceptions of goodness and morality that are entertained by various characters. The German prisoner Philip, whom Schindler meets after he is arrested for kissing a Jewish girl in his factory, complains about the corruptibility and thievery of the SS but seems unmoved by the fact that they routinely murder Jews. Goeth's conception of good and evil is perhaps most distorted, as seen when Goeth is "tempted" toward restraint and goodness by Schindler and entertains the idea the he might be seen as "Amon the Good."
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