Captain Madewell Ethical Dilemma Essay

1440 Words 6 Pages
The Ethical Dilemma It is an impossible decision to take someone’s life, even if it is an act of mercy or love. Watching a friend or family member suffer from injuries that essentially confirm their death makes it hard not to want to end that suffering. There is no way to completely justify the intentional death of any person, especially a loved one, because an outcome of death is a permanent one. There is no way to take that back or change your mind once the decision is made. Most people desire to avoid death or even the idea of death at all costs; but for some people, death is the only escape because the suffering they experience throughout their lives is too great. Despite all of this, if I were in the shoes of Captain Madewell my decision …show more content…
It was not out of rage or hatred like many murders are, but rather from a place of love and possibly even pity. The method he used for killing his friend was not ideal, but at the time it was his best and only option. This incident took place during the Civil War, at a time when the medical treatment available could not have saved his friend. The wound that Sergeant Halcrow obtained “was a wide, ragged opening in the abdomen. It was defiled with earth and dead leaves. Protruding from it was a loop of small intestine” (Bierce 57). In any situation, this wound would have been difficult to treat, but with the lack of sanitation and basic medical knowledge available on the battlefields, there was no chance of treating this gruesome injury. All Captain Madewell could see when he looked at his friend is a man suffering on the brink of death. His decision was justified with his good intentions because he simply sped along the process of death in hopes of ending his friend’s suffering …show more content…
It feels unnatural and misguided to ask for the thing that many people fear the most. After Captain Madewell plunged his sword through his best friend’s heart, Halcrow’s reaction seemed to demonstrate that hesitation. Halcrow’s instinct was to reach for the sword in an attempt to pull it out even though that would have changed nothing. It makes me reconsider whether or not Halcrow wanted Madewell to end his life, especially because there was no way he could verbally communicate his wishes. This inability to communicate and the human instinct to prevent pain and death further complicates this situation to the point where it seems that no reasonable solution is applicable. In spite of these complications, Captain Madewell made the correct decision in killing Sergeant Halcrow with the information and resources he had at the time. There is no simple way to resolve this problem, but had I been in this situation with someone I cared for, I would have done the exact same thing, perhaps just in a more humane and painless

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