Ethical Dilemmas in ‘The Dark Knight’

Upon viewing the movie “The Dark Knight’, audience can hardly distinguish ethical dilemmas raised as their intention in watching the movie was purely entertainment.  However, in order to find such ethical dilemma, one has to track down the movie part by part, scene by scene, or character by character.

First and foremost, the way Bruce Wayne tried to hide in public his real identity behind the mask of Batman would suggest one of the ethical dilemma found in the movie.

The conduct he exhibited implied dishonesty over sincere intention, which was to help bring out justice in the Gotham City.  Moreover, was it lying in his actions, and to whom it could benefit?  The mask of Batman was created to protect the real identity of Bruce Wayne, and therefore only benefited his own objective.

Secondly, another moral dilemma displayed by Bruce Wayne was his view of putting the justice on his hand.  In real life, the existing law was the one to be on top of others as the one who wants to put himself on top of the law is prohibited and punishable.  Thus, the movie presented an ethically incorrect principle.

Batman was a hero in the eyes of kids, and it was unquestionably demonstrated as he became a just and vigilant justice-giver.  Morally speaking, he ironically followed the ethical theory of Utilitarianism because his decision of sacrificing his own life was indeed a heroic act.  In this conduct, he offered a great benefit for a majority of the population.

On the other hand, the degree of his action covered some negative points especially when Batman went wild and violent in public.  Although he neither killed anyone nor hurt any civilians, his reckless action was quite unethical.

Damaging public and private property without showing any proper actions such as Batman being put in prison for civil case, created a scenario that kids might follow believing that destructive acts to other’s possessions are ethically correct irregardless of heroic motives and intentions.  Therefore, Batman or Bruce Wayne has to be penalized in the movie for such improper behavior as it could be the only way to balance the weight of Utilitarianism ethical theory.

To the case of Alfred the Butler, it is much harder to locate and analyze the ethical dilemma in his behavior.  He always looked calm, reasonable and a friend to Bruce Wayne.  He never committed any unlawful acts perceptibly.  However, as Alfred the Butler knew the real identity of Batman ever since, and as we find the ethical dilemma behind Bruce Wayne’s masked heroism, the existence of Alfred the Butler in the movie made us believe that his connivance with Bruce Wayne or Batman was unethical from the start.