Kate Choplin's The Storm, Zora Neale Hurston's Sweat, and Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Ethics and Morality in Literature

Ethics and morality have their origins in philosophy, but have subsequently spread to many other areas and are used in a variety of situations. Authors of literature have attempted to explain the distinction between the two because it is clear that acting morally does not justify ethics because there are various considerations between the two. While ethics is a more objective criterion for judging action, morality is more of a personal characteristic. Kate Choplin's The Storm, Zora Neale Hurston's Sweat, and Susan Glaspell's Trifle introduce the reader to a world of repressive people, with males controlling the females. Nevertheless, they all seem to be acting morally because they engage in conversations and are in marriages but they do not observe ethics are they relate with others socially. The primary sources are further backed by findings by other secondary authors on the subject which ensures that the subject is a critical theme in the society to enable the reader to learn to balance ethics and morality.

Ethics and Morals

The field of ethics is arguably the most multifaceted subjects in the world of academia because it applies to healthcare, religion, sociology, literature and philosophy. All these genes describe it as the study of morality, hence creating a confusion about the understanding of morality and ethics. It is acknowledged that morality constitutes behaving in a personal and normative manner while ethics are the standards that define good and bad and that distinguish a given community from another (Bucciarelli, Khemlani, and Johnson-Laird ). The understanding of how morality does not warrant ethics is elaborated through the contextualization of characters in Kate Choplin's The Storm, Zora Neale Hurston's Sweat and Susan Glaspell's Trifles with the theme of femininity being used as a justification.

Trifles: Female Importance and Ethical Behavior

The relevance of the theme is first perceived in the story Trifles when the reader notes that the female gender is considered to be less important. The moral code requires that one engages in a conversation with anyone at any given scenario regardless of their age or gender. However, the ethical code would mean that rather than get involved in a conversation for the sake of it, the parties ought to respect each other and make it meaningful. For example, Hale states, "I guess you know about how much he talked himself; but I thought maybe if I went to the house and talked about it before his wife, though I said to Harry that I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John" (Graspell 10). The statement indicates that Wright had dominated his wife to an extent that she did not mean anything. It is also evident that he is the dominant type and is silent. Further research into how male dominance is portrayed is from the consideration of how the author's style is described. According to Al-Khalili, "Glaspell staged her heroine in a power struggle with patriarchy which emphasized the domestication of women as a source of security for the welfare of the household and the nation" (132). It justifies the author portrayed of women as victims of being domesticated by their more dominant partners whose ethical behavior is wanting.

Sweat: Morality, Violence, and Racism

The understanding of morality and ethics is also perceived in the assessment of the theme of female oppression and domestic violence that is depicted in The Sweat. The marriage between Delia and Sykes is considered to be based on the moral code of the society because it is expected that a man and woman marry. However, there is a lack of ethics from the constant beatings that Delia receives from her husband who mistreats her on many occasions. Hurston writes, "She was on her feet; her poor little body, her bare knuckly hands bravely defying the strapping hulk before her" (17). The impression is the lack of morals and ethics from Sykes' perspective because it appears that the show is a battle between a weak Delia and a strong Sykes and she has little chance to overcome her oppressor. The expression is seconded from the assessment of the role of women from a racist perspective. According to Hayes, "while the mammy construction promotes a fictionalized longsuffering, passive, servant, the Sapphire construction supports an equally false reduction of Black womanhood as man hating and shrewish" (5). The impression that the reader gets is that of a husband who is immoral and acts unethically in a violent and racially discriminative manner despite the fact that Delia and Sykes were in marriage.

The Storm: Morality and Hypocrisy

The last significant element in trying to understand the difference between ethics and morality is from the consideration of Kate Choplin's portrays of Calixta's behavior in The Storm. Calixta is presented as a good housekeeper who is already worried that Bibi and Bobinot had delayed coming home. When they arrive after the storm, she acts ethically by embracing them and is joyous even though she had sex with Alcee. The author writes, "the contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh" (Choplin 16). Thus, the reader notes that the woman is immoral and a hypocrite despite remaining relevant and appearing a good wife. While Bibi and Bobinot were away, she engaged in sexual intercourse with an old boyfriend and when her family comes back, she behaved in a manner that was not suggestive of her immoral act. It is stated that, "The two main characters are married and appear to be gladly married, but that does not mean they do not need to close past issues" (Juárez 31). It denotes the fact that Calixta was married, which was ethical, but she was immoral in her actions.

In summary, the three works of literature demonstrate vividly that while someone could behave morally, it does not warrant ethics as noted in The Storm and Trifles. In Sweat, Sykes' behavior shows that he was neither moral nor ethical because he is violent in marriage. The significance of the understanding of the difference and the illustration through characterization is from the fact that it enables the reader to realize that not only should they adhere to the moral code but consider ethics every time.

Works Cited

Al-Khalili, Raja. “Representations of Rural Women in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Studies in Literature and Language 6.1 (2013): 132–135. Web.

Bucciarelli, M, S Khemlani, and P N Johnson-Laird. “The Psychology of Moral Reasoning.” Judgment and Decision Making 3.2 (2008): 121–139. Print.

Choplin, Kate. The Storm. N.p., 1898. Print.

Graspell, Susan. “Trifles.” Trials of Marriage: Plays `. N.p., 2000. Print.

Hayes, Jennifer Louise. “Expanding Roles for Black Women in Literature: Zora Neale Hurston and Gloria Naylor.” N.p., 2010. Web.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Sweat. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997. Print.

Juárez, Marta de Cima. “The New Woman in Kate Chopin’s Short Fiction.” Grado en Estudios Ingleses (2015): n. pag. Print.

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