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Argumentative Essay of the Movie “The Reader”

Parra 1 Martin Parra Prof. Enrique Wong English 100 4 December 2012 Looks can be deceiving; do not fall into the trap “Ethical principles stand above the existence of the nation and that, by adhering to these principles an individual, belongs to the community of all those who share, who have shared, and who will share this belief” (Fromm 121). This thought was impossible to perceive in Germany during Hitler’s command and his cruel, racist, immoral Jewish holocaust. Ethics and moral never existed in that country by that time, thus Germans only lived under the “law”.

One special case of this atrocity was the one of Hanna Schmitz, in the movie The Reader. Some people would say that Hanna Schmitz was a right person based on the fact that she helped Michael Berg during his youth and also the fact that she was a disciplined worker. However, she manipulated Michael Berg, killed around three hundred people in the concentration camp, and killed herself when she was in jail. Despite Hanna helped Michael when he more needed at the time he was very sick, she manipulated and mistreated him in different ways.

The first one and the most important was when Michael had to take a bath (The Reader, film). He wanted a private moment, but Hanna disrespected him (The Reader, film). She did not close the curtain and saw him naked. When Michael realized that, he was restrained. Looking at his eyes, Hanna seized the moment and got naked, too. Michael got shocked. After some looks, Michael was having his first sex experience (The Reader, film). He was just fifteen years old. Then, they began to repeat this situation almost every day. So, Michael Parra 2 started to prefer going Hanna’s instead going home, and she did not care about it.

Neither cared about his name (she just called him “kid”) nor how was he with his disease (The Reader, film). She just wanted to have sex and pleasure, not love at all. After some time, Michael read a story to Hanna and she liked the way he did it. Hanna liked so much that she preferred hearing a story before having sex (The Reader, film). Again, Hanna is using Michael just to self-indulge. Another situation where she did not show respect for him was in the train. Both saw each other, but Hanna did not want to greet him and turned around (The Reader, film).

Furthermore, she told Michael that she could not be upset with him because she did not care enough about him (The Reader, film). Unexpectedly, he asked Hanna if she loved him, the answer was a deep silence (The Reader, film). So, it is clear that Hanna Schmitz did not respect Michael Berg, just used and manipulated him for her own benefit. After a long time, Michael became a law student and saw Hanna again, but in a trial (The Reader, film). It resulted that Hanna drop her job at the train office and radically became a concentration camp guard (The Reader, film). Why did she take that decision?

It can be possible that she was in a difficult situation in her life, but she could have easily chosen another type of job, not an atrocious one. Even though she knew her new job was killing people without a logic reason, she accepted before thinking twice. The worst thing she did was burning a church with three hundred people inside and locking all the doors (The Reader, film). Where are the ethics, moral and logic here?! She did not want to think in the most important values and rights, she just obeyed the law. Based on Donald B. Walker article: Law is the derivation of a society? interpretation of justice which is relative both to time and place. Furthermore, the creation of law is more frequently the Parra 3 result of the interpretation of justice by the powerful in the society which is then applied at the expense of the powerless. Obviously, in this case the Germans were the powerful and Jews, the powerless. Consequently, their law was an interpretation of what they think to be justice; but, that justice was based on hate, racism and killing of some people, especially Jews. This absurd law was the only thing Hanna had in my mind when she was working as a concentration camp guard.

She could save those people if she had thought in ethics and rights, but no. She did not open her mind, just obeyed the law. At the end of the trial Michael began to cry because the judge sentence Hanna penal servitude for life because she admitted that the letter about those killed people in the concentration camp was written by her (The Reader, film). It may have been worse; she could have been executed due to all the people she had killed. Years passed, Michael Berg became a judge, he had a daughter; but, he never stopped thinking about Hanna Schmitz.

He could not forget her. So, one day he decided to write a letter to her (The Reader, film). When she received it and heard the name Michael Berg, she was surprised. After that, Michael sent her a story recorded in a cassette. Since then, plenty of cassettes arrived to Hanna’s jail (The Reader, film). Since then, she learned how to read and write. Now the big question, why did she tell the judge that she wrote that letter when she did not know how to write? It cannot be possible that Hanna lied in the most decisive moment of the trial, of her future.

Finally, she killed herself after Michael wanted to help to her to get out of prison. These attitudes are considered part of the psychologically weakest people who refuse any kind of help from others who love and care them. Once again Hanna Schmitz hurt Michael and did not want his help, even worse, his love. Parra 4 In spite of Hanna Schmitz helped the young boy Michael Berg when he was sick and was an excellent worker, as a conclusion, it is clear that she was a manipulating and cruel person. She used the young boy Michael Berg to satisfy herself and killed a lot of people just because it was her job.

She did not showed respect, human rights, and ethics in both cases. Actually, she can be considered a selfish hypocrite prepotent person who just wanted her own benefit with no respect or care about the others around her. So, be careful; you do not want to be like Hanna Schmitz, right? Works Cited Fromm, Erich. Escape from freedom. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1941. Print. The reader. Dir. Stephen Daldry. Perf. Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, and Bruno Ganz. Mirage, 2008. Film. Walker, Donal B. The Detah Penalthy: Legal Cruelty. USA Today, November 1983.