Glory: Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Essay


Let’s begin by identifying the word’s Character, dignity and respect. Character is defined as the way someone thinks feels and behaves; it’s an individual’s personality. Dignity is defined as the appearance of self-control. Lastly respect is defined as a feeling of admiring or something that is good, valuable and important. (Webster2013) All three of these traits are very important to have in individual’s life. I choose to Watch “Glory”. In the film there are several roles that have charter, dignity and respect. Although some lack in different areas the film shows the different obstacles and circumstances of why. Here’s a little bit of background of the movie “Glory”, the movie was filmed in 1989, and some viewers classified as a typical Civil War film. The movie was based the events of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. What was the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment? It was a movement the allowed African Americans to go to war. The movie point of view is from Colonel Robert Shaw which is played by Matthew Broderick. Glory had its obvious racism and discrimination towards blacks, but the film proceeds to explain how the different man fought to overcome the racism and they came together to stand against it. I decided to write about two characters that really stood out to me. These two characters are Colonel Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick) and Trip (Denzel Washington) in my opinion both have character, dignity, and respect. They are also comparable to Aristotle they of ethic’s on personal virtue, and St. Augustine ethic’s on a divine command. Shaw and Trip to me were the most complex and fascinating characters to me. In the movie Shaw’s character begins by leading the union soldiers to attack and he ends up getting wounded. During his recovery, Lincoln passes the Emancipation of proclamation and Shaw is pronounce as Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. At this point he meets the other solders, which were the slaves. Initially Shaw did not believe that the men would make good soldiers, but as the movie proceeded he began to have the feeling of wanting to train them for battle. Shaw began to see something in his soldiers, something other than just their race.

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I believe that Shaw’s character in the movie shows beliefs in a man’s virtue. Shaw refused to treat the soldiers like slaves, and he took the responsibility to train them for battle, even thought he had doubted their ability. In our textbook Sommers and Sommers Aristotle believed in the attainment of the Good Life. His theory of happiness is not the type of happiness one normally thinks about as in the statement, “I am happy.” (Sommers & Sommers, 2011). He also believe that a person should understand happiness as a sense of well-being or the overall quality of one’s life, yet, this “happy” life does not just happen, It’s the result of specific actions and qualities(Sommers ; Sommers, 2011).To accomplish the Good Life one should look at the nature of action. Accordingly, all actions have a mean between those two extremes that is suited to a specific individual. This is a mean that is suited to us as an individual, as a member of society, and leads toward the Good Life. (Sommers ; Sommers, 2011). I compared Shaw to Aristotle belief because at first his character came off as to much pride about accepting the soldiers, but later in the movie Shaw was question by a quartermaster about his actions about getting the shoes for his soldiers. He later turns around and threatens the quartermaster and his rank, to get what he needed for his men. The action Shaw took was mean, but it wasn’t done for his own personal gain it was down for people other than him. In his eyes sometimes you have to be mean to be kind for others. My second characters I choose to write about is Trip, which is played by Denzel Washington, and if that name doesn’t mean enough, watch one of his movies. Trip to me was a very complex character; his role kind of reminded me of Rick Blaine from Casablanca, what I mean by that is both men suffer major emotional pain from their pass event’s and from those things happening it made people think that they were cold, full of themselves and problems to others, in this film Trip holds a lot of anger within himself and his Country.

Trip has conflicts with several characters, but sometimes it seems that he has a score to settle with the world. He is difficult to work with and not easy to approach and this makes him have various problems with others. He lets his fellow soldiers know from the very beginning that even though they are fighting for their country, nothing is going to change for the black America and that comment brings up lot emotions amongst the other men. Trip also creates conflict with his leader Shaw which leads to a whipping for the crime of desertion, and makes the master and slave motif even more of a problem for Trip and Shaw. Trip has a number of personal conflicts that he must overcome before the end of the film, the most notable of which is his attitude about the future of black people. He is very bitter, especially after being a slave and going through punishments that are shown by the scars on his back, but it’s funny because his bitterness ends up being his strength. Trip comes into grip with his higher purpose and by then he is able to let go of some of the pain and be a proud soldier that knows he is doing the right thing.

I compared Trip’s character to St.Augustine theory of Ethics. In our text book Sommers and Sommers St.Augustine was one of the founders of the Christine Theology. St.Augustine believed in good Life lies in the act of confession and the knowledge of God. He approached the ideas of dignity, character, and self-respect from a straight forward religious perspective. Meaning: We attain those personal qualities and live the Good Life through our relationship with God. (Sommers and Sommers, 2011). He also believed that our souls are restless and cannot find character, dignity, and self-respect until they find the greatest well, and for him that would be knowledge of God. He believed that our relationship with God cannot be lost once it is attained, and no matter what befalls us we have a lasting relationship to the Greatest Good. As such, he believed that no one can take that God-given concept of self-worth from us. (Sommers and Sommers, 2011).


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