The problems depicted in movies often reflect the most important and problematic issues which are characteristic for the definite society or period of time.
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The Hours (2002) directed by Stephen Daldry can be discussed as the movie in which such a controversial moral issue as suicide is presented with references to three main characters who commit or think about committing suicide.
Although the problem of suicide is discussed from the point of different philosophical movements and visions, there is no single idea according to this controversial moral issue.
The plot of The Hours is organized within three time perspectives. Thus, the audience can observe the peculiarities of Virginia Woolf’s life during one day in 1923 when she starts writing her novel Mrs. Dalloway, suffering from a mental disease.
Then, it is possible to observe Laura Brown, a pregnant housewife from Los Angeles, who is preparing for her husband’s birthday, but she thinks only about committing suicide. It is the year of 1951. The next story is about Clarissa and her friend Richard who suffers from AIDS.
They live in 2001. These characters are connected with the help of Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Woolf is depicted while writing the novel, Laura Brown reads the novel, and Clarissa is discussed as the embodiment of the novel’s main character.
However, one more issue which connects all these characters is the issue of committing suicide. Thus, the act of suicide is presented in Mrs. Dalloway, the frame of the movie is associated with Virginia Woolf’s committing suicide in 1941, Laura Brown thinks of suicide because of her unhappy marriage, and Clarissa’s friend Richard is inclined to commit suicide to find the relief from his sufferings caused by AIDS.
The question of suicide is one of the most controversial in philosophy and ethics. According to the Natural Law, the people’s task is to preserve their life. That is why, the concept of suicide can be discussed as contradicting to the main principles of this theory.
The Natural Law prohibits committing suicide as the act of breaking its main principle. Immanuel Kant discusses the human actions as moral or not with references to the other people.
Thus, the idea of suicide is in contrast to the idea of humanity that is why people should not commit suicide if they do not want the other people could imitate their actions. It is impossible to universalize the act of suicide as ethical.
The philosophy of Utilitarianism is based on the actions’ consequences and on the idea of the personal well-being.
These two concepts influence the discussion of the issue of committing suicide which can be considered as unethical when it has the negative consequences for the other people, but it is possible when it satisfies the personal needs and can help relieve from sufferings.
The principles of the Social Contract depend on the fears, and the fear of death is basic. Moreover, according to the theory, people should preserve their lives, and the act of suicide is immoral.
The approach to committing suicide discussed in relation to Utilitarianism can be considered as relevant for analyzing the problems depicted in the movie with references to Woolf’s position when she speaks about the right to live the life according to her own desires and visions.
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Nevertheless, when persons can experience the same issues they should remember about the unethical nature of this act in relation to their own life and its consequences for their close people. From this point, the reaction to the issue should be based on the Natural Law’s principles and the people’s obligation to preserve their life.
The problem of committing suicide is one of the most controversial moral issues, and it depends on the necessity to discuss the question from the perspective of the consequences of the act for the person and for the other persons, including relatives and close people.
The representation of the problem in The Hours allows discussing the issue from all the points.