The Secret History

FAQ About The Secret History

How does the concept of morality and ethics factor into the decisions made by the characters in the book? The Secret History
9 months ago | gizem

How does the concept of morality and ethics factor into the decisions made by the characters in the book?

The concept of morality and ethics plays a central and complex role in "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt. It factors into the decisions made by the characters in significant ways, ultimately driving much of the plot and character development. Here's how morality and ethics are woven into the story:

  • Divergence from Conventional Morality: From the outset, it's clear that the group of friends led by Richard Papen is willing to diverge from conventional moral standards. Their decision to cover up a murder sets the stage for a series of morally questionable actions.
  • The Allure of Transgression: The characters are drawn to the idea of transgression, viewing themselves as intellectually and morally superior to societal norms. This intellectual elitism, fostered by their classical studies and mentorship under Julian Morrow, allows them to justify their increasingly immoral actions.
  • Moral Rationalization: Throughout the novel, the characters engage in moral rationalization. They convince themselves that their actions are justifiable in pursuit of an idealized life inspired by ancient Greece. This rationalization reflects the novel's exploration of the human capacity to justify unethical behavior.
  • Individual Moral Struggles: Each character grapples with their own moral dilemmas and internal conflicts. Richard, for example, is initially repelled by the group's actions but becomes increasingly complicit. These internal struggles highlight the complexity of morality on an individual level.
  • The Consequences of Immorality: As the plot unfolds, the characters face dire consequences for their immoral actions. Guilt, fear, and paranoia take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being, illustrating the high cost of their moral transgressions.
  • The Role of Julian Morrow: Julian Morrow's influence on the characters is significant. He encourages their pursuit of intellectual and moral greatness, even if it means crossing ethical boundaries. His mentorship blurs the lines between right and wrong and contributes to the group's moral descent.
  • Themes of Hubris and Nemesis: The characters' hubris, or excessive pride, in their intellectual and moral superiority leads to their downfall. The concept of nemesis, or divine retribution, is present as the characters face the consequences of their actions, highlighting the novel's exploration of moral accountability.
  • The Impact on Relationships: The erosion of trust and the strain on relationships among the characters are direct results of their ethical lapses. Betrayal and deceit damage their bonds, underscoring the moral themes of the novel.