The Help: Character, Dignity and Self-Respect
Rachael L. Tuminski
Character, Dignity and Self-respect Paper
Abstract: This paper will examine the parallels and give examples of the teachings of Aristotle, Epictetus and St. Augustine, using the motion picture The Help directed by Tate Taylor.
What gives human beings their character, dignity and self-respect? What makes up them up in humans? Aristotle, St. Augustine, and Epictetus all attempted to answer this very question examining human nature very closely. Aristotle took on the subject of character; Epictetus took on the topic of dignity and St. Augustine the topic of ...view middle of the document...
The book tells the story of women who have been treated poorly by the very women they helped to raise. The story of abuse and segregation that is heart wrenching. Skeeter tells this story despite being raised in a home that used African American help, being raised in a home that was pro segregation. Towards the end of the movie her mother, Charlotte Phelan, who is dying of cancer also changes her outward approach to segregation. She had silently had a lot of love and respect for the family’s domestic Constantine, and had even sided against her during an altercation in the movie. To save face she had chosen to fire Constantine and send her away rather than defend the actions of Constantine. Towards the end of the movie this attitude changes after she reads her daughters book and later defends her daughter’s actions to Hilly Holbrook. According to Aristotle this makes them virtuous because of their good choices.
Epictetus and Dignity
Epictetus was a philosopher who lived from 55A.D to 135 A.D; he was around during the Roman Empire. Epictetus believed that the only thing that one could control in life was one’s responses. He believed that man had no control over anything but, how he responded to life’s circumstances. In the movie The Help this is illustrated with a situation involving Yule Mae Davis and Hilly Holbrook. Yule Mae had two sons, her husband and her had only managed to raise money to send one of them to college and Yule Mae decided to ask Hilly (her boss) if she could borrow the money for her other son. Hilly of course being Hilly refused. Later on Yule Mae is cleaning in Hilly’s home and comes across a ring. Yule Mae pawns the ring for money to send her son to college. Hilly calls the police and goes to watch as Yule Mae is arrested and beaten for theft. This situation has several bad responses; Hilly was of course rude when the request was made of her about the money she could have responded better, but then Yule Mae should not have stolen from her employer. Really all responses in this situation just lead to more bad responses, a bad cycle of poor choices and responses. Another example of this is a situation involving Mini and Hilly. There is a bad storm and Mini needed to use the restroom, Hilly had constructed a restroom outside and across the yard for Mini to use, Mini could not stand the thought of going out in such horrible weather to go to the restroom so she went to use a restroom...