Protagonists Dexter Green and Eliot Ness, from the short text “Winter Dreams” and the 1980’s film “The Untouchables” respectively, offer strong parallels between each other in regards to their expressions of morality being subjective to the interpretation of the character experiencing a moral confliction. Perhaps the most naïve of the two characters is Dexter Green, who makes moral judgements that are solely influenced by his carnal desires. Despite being acutely aware of the fact that, time and time again, his love interest was known to run away with other men and otherwise devalue his romantic intentions, Dexter justifies her moral inadequaciesfor the sake of his sexual desires, as seen in: “When she assured him that she had not kissed the other man, he knew she was lying – yet he was glad that she had taken the trouble to lie to him.” In this sense, Dexter has dictated his own moral compass so as to defend his actions, and allow him to still perceive Judy in a positive light – so that he does not feel like a fool. This concept is reinforced by a defining sentence in the text: “No disillusion as to the world in which she had been brought up could cure his illusion as to her desirability.” Eliot Ness applies the exact same principles when justifying his own actions when pushing character Frank Nitti off of a tallbuilding within “The Untouchables”. Ness is a very poignant example of the temptation that one has to fight against bending one’s own morality, seeing as his job is intimately related to upholding justice in a morally unbiased fashion. However, Ness is aware that the nature of antagonist Al Capone’s power is such that, if surrendered to the law, Nitti, a hired murderer, will be excused by the jury via bribing. It is with this in mind that Ness alters his sense of what is right and wrong, just as Dexter Green did, in order to cater for his emotionally biased judgements. Such bias is invoked by the fact that Ness knows that his close friend, Malone, will not be avenged if the established judicial system is depended upon to punish Nitti. His dialogue “I have become what I despise and I am content”, is used to express that Ness is fully aware that he has contradicted his moral sensibility, just as Dexter was, yet nevertheless adjusted his perception of justice in order to sate his deep resentment toward Nitti for killing Malone. One can appreciate that, considering Ness was confident that no justice would be served if he did not act, that he was only hoping to enact justice in the best way that the situation offered – however this decision required Ness to wilfully acknowledge his predetermined moral values as malleable, in a way that both texts present as dangerously possible in the face of emotional influences.


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