Morality in Revenge

Moralityin Revenge

Moralityin Revenge

TheSting is a classic story that explores revenge for the death of agood friend. Instead of them having revenge being retaliatory innature, Hill uses the main characters to get their revenge by coningthe man who is responsible for the death, out of his money. Gettingthrough the first parts of the film, one gets to be grabbed fullyinto the film(Michaels,1993). Hill also breaks the conformity of the other films throughsetting the main characters as conmen. This is quite different fromthe other films given that the men needed to be seen as good but atthe end, the opposite happened (Shaw, 2012).

Themovie, The Sting, vividly brings out morality in revenge. In themovie, Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman are “grifters” or comeout as confidence tricksters in 1930s Chicago (Michaels, 1993). Notwithin their knowledge is the fact that one of their victims worksfor a vicious local gangster named Doyle Lonnegan, and upon Lonneganfinding out what has happened he gets Luther murdered. Hooker is thenon-violent man in his nature and admits that he is not aware of muchregarding the killing, but all the same, wishes to revenge for thedeath of the partner. He decides that the best way is not to shutterthe pride of Lonnegan through relieving him of some wealth. Rather,he joins hands with the other con man named Henry Gondorff andtogether they come up with a concrete plan to cheat Lonnegan andcheat in a manner that is not easily realized. The plot occurs withgreat cleverness and ingenuity that even up to the end, the audienceare not aware of the occurrence of the happening and to some extentare not sure about the real developments and the elaborate schemethat takes place.

Eventhough the movie, The Sting, is known to be good for the working in acontemporary setting, it works best also as a period drama (Weverka,1974). Morality is a virtue that is entrenched in almost every otherindividual in the society and this movie, highlighting on the theme,revenge the paper seeks to expound on morality in the central themeof the paper.

Fromthe movie, it appears that the difficult time endured by America inthe 1930s was a proof of the slightly moral dubious aspect tosympathize with criminals. From the movie, high chances of a conmanaccidentally crossing the paths of the other groups of cons and arethreatened exist.

Inthe movie, there is the use of ‘bygone age’, which to some extentpeople might think that is meant to undermine the existenceauthority. From the movie, the police officers are so corrupt. Theirlevel of corruption gets to a level where they threaten only to sharemore about the crimes that go wrong only when paid. This isimmorality of the highest level in any society. Crime in any societyneeds to be addressed, and there is no cost that needs to be incurredin addressing the criminal problems. In my opinion, I highly positthat The Sting is a quite socially subversive film.

Thismovie essentially is a “moral” film. This can be affirmed by thefact that despite the normal and regular audacity that is portrayedby the main characters and the sympathy that is shown by theaudience, in the end, the authorities always show up and address theissues hence having justice served (Shaw, 2012). In any moralsociety, justice is a core and fundamental aspect and must beaddressed in letter and spirit.

Inthe movie, The Sting, there is no displaying of social order orauthority. From the movie, the only way that Hooker can get justiceserved for him in regards to the murder of Luther is to be vigilantand have their operations outside the law. From the movie, the onlyperson that comes out to be in authority is Snyder. Snyder is acorrupt and morally bankrupt example of police. To some extent, TheSting can be treated as more pessimistically dissident andsignificant of the society if it was put in a modern environment.

Inthe movie, George Roy Hill, has used irony to bring out the aspectand theme of morality in revenge especially for the death of thefriend (Weverka, 1974). In the film, Johnny Hooker is the maincharacter, and the irony that occurs is that the “good guy” alsocomes out as addict and street con-man. Gambling alone raises issuesof morality in any society as individuals who are known to gamble areseen as lacking the seriousness in life and cannot work hard.Gambling to some extent is immoral within societal setups as thatwhich is got from the proceeds of a gamble are not genuine.

Thereis a scene in the movie where Johnny meets a dinner waitress and atthe end of the day ends up getting to bed with her. The day after, itis found that she is gone, and the apartment where they were isempty. The notion of revenge comes out when Johnny meets her next.The meeting, in this case, happens when Johnny finds her shot andJohnny is informed that she was going to kill him. How else can onesee this, if not revenge? Even though this part did not add to theplot of the story it seems that it offers to mean to revenge andmorality that is tied to him. The moral part of it is that the ladyis shot while on a mission to end another life, the life of Johnny.

Theother bit of immorality comes out when Gondorff, Hooker and theirteam of loveable criminals get to a point where they convinceLonnegan that he can make lots of millions of dollars through betting(Michaels, 1993). This betting is on horse races that have alreadybeen run, before the announcing of the results. The plan itself iscomplicated and filled with dangers. The revenge bit comes out whenHooker is to stay one step ahead of the two gangsters and the crueland corrupt Lieutenant Snyder, all of whom are out to go after him.At the same time, both Gondorff and Hooker plays their partaccordingly and with a little luck, they move toward a successfulconclusion of the biggest con that has been tried before (Shaw,2012).

Itis from the behaviors and the manner in which the lead characterscarry out themselves that we tend to explore the question ofmorality. Hooker and Newman are presented as charming individuals,loveable, intelligent but at the same time with rogue behaviors. Therecklessness of Hooker with money is even clearer in the earlierfilm, where he disposed $3000 in one spin of the roulette wheel.There is also intense loneliness that comes out though emotionallysatisfying sexual liaison. Further, the setting up of the film, inthe Depression era, and the unemployment and poverty that was inplace is a tactic that helps in drawing the more emphasis on moraljudgment far away from criminality.

Eventhough there is a cheerful mood, the film has some serious aspects inas far as keeping with the themes of revenge and murder areconcerned. Often, I do not admire what is known as “heist” or“caper” movies, given that they tend to give a feeling ofglamourizing crime and some sense of dishonesty at the same time. Themovie, The Sting, to some extent, turns out to be different. In themovie, Hooker and Gondorff exist in a world where the moral order hasindeed decayed. The police, in this setup, are fully corrupt, and onesuch is Snyder, who is representative of the forces of law and orderand, in fact, is part of the payroll of Lonnegan (Weverka, 1974). Itis evident that no chance exists for Hooker to get justice for themurder of the friend through the normal channels with the only waythat they can do this being through seeking other options that existoutside the law. In any society, where the police are crooked, onlycriminals can execute justice. At the end of the film, there is theemotional satisfaction that is felt. The emotional feeling mainlyoccurs because of some moral order that appears to be restored at theend, and this happens without a person getting injured except for thewallet of Lonnegan.

Thenotion of revenge in morality has been clearly explored in thispaper, which is clear from the beginning of the movie. Hooker teamsup with a well-known and intelligent con artist by the name HenryGondorff, who is a friend of Hooker’s partner Luther Coleman anddoes this to trick the New York gangster Doyle Lonnegan out of the$500,000 dollars. Even though nearly every character is a criminal inthe movie, it is evident that Hooker and Gondorff are executing theirplans to succeed without major hitches, given that Lonnegan is cruelwhile the other partners are likable guys. Essentially, for one tosafely steam half a million dollars from a big time gangster, theyhave to craft a very complicated plan that will ensure fooling of thevictim without them ever knowing that they are being fooled. In thisscenario, it appears that Gondorff is the right guy to mastermind theplan (Michaels, 1993).

GorgeRoy Hill, in the film, The Sting, explores the theme of revenge forthe friend’s death(Weverka,1974). In his works, Hill uses respectable way to gain revenge,rather than killing the responsible man. Using the more responsibleway to revenge in itself is moral. Any actions that is deemedirresponsible in most cases is known to be immoral (Weverka, 1974).In this sense, the author seems to have covered explicitly the issueof revenge in morality. The main characters in the film are the congangster who is responsible for the friend’s death, and thishappens out of money and dignity. Using the main characters as thegood guys, Hill is capable of making the con men to go against theregular style in most of the movies used.


Michaels,L. (1993). The confidence man in modern film.&nbspUniversityof Toronto Quarterly,&nbsp62(3),375-387.

Shaw,D. (2012).&nbspMoralityand the movies: Reading ethics through film.Bloomsbury Publishing.

Weverka,R. (1974).&nbspTheSting.