Theme Of Morality In No Country For Old Men

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The Subjective Nature of Morality
Former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, once said “we can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”. In essence, Abraham Lincoln stated that life is all about perspective and subjectivity. This idea of difference in perspective can be applied to many aspects in life including morality and ethics. The idea that morality is subjective is explored in the literary work, “No Country for Old Men” (“NCOM”) written by Cormac McCarthy, as well as the play King Lear, written by William Shakespeare. Both pieces of literature apply similar techniques to teach readers this lesson. The first technique employed is exposing readers to the characters Lear and Sheriff
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Anton Chigurh is a psychopath in “NCOM” and simply put he lacks morals and ethics. He finds it easy to kill people and offers no remorse. In essence, Chigurh himself is a symbol of evil. He symbolizes the true power of being evil and how those who are evil will stop at no lengths to get they want. A more specific example of symbolism is Chigurh’s coin. He flips it in order to determine whether or not to kill an individual. Before killing a woman, Chigurh says, “I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person 's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.” (McCarthy 157). Now while Chigurh pay act as if the coin toss was fate and that the woman was meant to die, this is simply not the case. The coin represents the unpredictability of the world and of individuals. It represents the fact that you may come across someone who is either incredibly kind or incredibly diabolical. This again deals with morality as morality is the same way, it varies. Shakespeare similarly incorporates symbolism in King Lear, when he talks about vision. Vision is a symbol to Lear as it represents his inability to see what he has done wrong. In the beginning of the play, Lear’s faithful servant Kent tells Lear, “See better Lear” (Shakespeare, I.I.179). This lack of vision highlights the fact that Lear did not see the difference between right and wrong. Vincent A. King effectively summarizes how effectively McCarthy uses literary devices in his journal “What Have You Done. What Have You Failed to Do” when he says, “Instead of fully drawn characters possessing their own unique psychology, McCarthy’s works are filled with stereotypes, stock characters, and symbols” (Vincent A. King, What Have You. What Have You Failed to

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