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Free «Character, Dignity, and Self-Respect» Essay Sample

This essay will interpret and illustrate the movie known as Glory and relate some characters to philosophies of Aristotle, Epictetus and Saint Augustine. The Aristotle’s theory under discussion in this paper is ethics that are bone of every person’s virtue. Epictetus’ theory on virtues has it its foundation in people’s inner strength, while Saint Augustine’s theory is based on divine command. This essay will elaborate how certain characters were able to put Aristotle’s theory into practice by finding a balance between deficiency and excess. This paper will as well demonstrate how different characters changed their habits and made a conscious decision to change their lives. It will also illustrate how the characters acted with self-respect, dignity and character.

The movie Glory is about a certain commander who has control over volunteer infantry in 54th Massachusetts; he was the first African America regiment to appear on the list of service in the USA. Commander Shaw felt guilty for losing many soldiers in the war (Broderick et al, 1990). He always felt that he was missing something as a result, of the guilt he felt. However, his guilt eventually heals, and he leads black regiments to a battle at Fort Wagner (Sommers, 2010). Shaw and Forbes were able to make a strong connection with the group of men they were leading. Although some of the men in the group were impossible, the two leaders managed to lead and connect with them.



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This is defined as having the quality of feeling worth to being respected, and having respect for others, respecting themselves and a person’s character and his or her conduct. In this movie, the character who was able to bring out this role was Rawlins who was played by Morgan Freeman. This is because as much as Rawlins knew that being a slave did not amount to much, he still offered help to Shaw in leading his troop in fighting during the war.


Two characters that were able to bring out this role are Trip and Thomas who were played by Denzel Washington and Andre Braugher respectively. Trip was always angry having lived a hard life as a slave who had been beaten occasionally. He felt that the white men were monkeys and could not win the war on their own. Thomas, on the other hand, was a well-respected and educated man. He worked for Col who was Shaw’s father. He felt that black men should be educated and know how to tackle different matters in life. He also felt that black people were supposed to have pride in who they are. He always thought that the fact that he was a close friend to Shaw meant that he would not receive the kind of treatment every other person got. However, this was not the case; he was called out to do better and ever was shouted at. He learnt to respect himself even when others did not treat him with respect.

According to Aristotle, to have character, self-respect and dignity means being able to make a choice that reflects these behaviors. He also stated that these roles are mainly determined by a person’s reason and how a wise person would act. According to him, it is basically a balance between two vices, one with excesses and one with deficiency.

Aristotle’s Views on Dignity

According to Aristotle, one earns dignity from the inside, not from the outward. It means to act with honor and to feel that you deserve to be respected, and you are worth a lot. Dignity is not something you get from other people according to Aristotle it is in your conscience.

Self- Respect

Self-respect according to Aristotle is the inner reason as to why you deserve what you want. It is also in the inner part of a person, and it does not require incentives from any external force (Newman, 2005).

Epictetus’ Views on Character


According to this philosopher, everything people do depends on their will. This is because it is hard for a person to do something he or she is not willing to do. This philosopher compared life with being an athlete whereby the choices that one makes lead to good or bad results. According to him, everything we do depends on the choices we make.

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Saint Augustine

According to Saint Augustine, everything that was being was perfect; however, the level of perfection came in different degrees. This theory is more practical to Christians, and it makes sense in today’s world where people have different beliefs on different issues (Augustine, & Parker, 2005).

In the movie, there were many challenges that the characters had to overcome especially Col and Shaw. Shaw for instance had to get over the fact that he failed in a battle, and he had to pick himself up and lead black regiment during the civil war. Shaw and other black soldiers had to get over the fact that they were highly underpaid. They also experienced many hardships because of being black; they did not have proper shoes and uniform and received different treatment compared to white soldiers.

Shaw lives his life with a lot of dignity and demonstrates character by being honorable and noble. He did not allow his pride get in his way although other leaders did not think his soldiers were worth much. He had self-respect in that even after defeat he still rose up and fought again. He believed in faith and even though he was white and his soldier’s black, he did not think they were not good enough.


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