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While watching the movie, I found it difficult to spot a direct link between Truman’s

experiences and Aristotle’s discussion of virtue. Initially, I thought the movie more appropriate

to a discussion of, say, what it means to constitute a genuine human life or an analysis to Plato’s

“Allegory of the Cave” given that Truman’s life was one of comfort, of pleasure but also of

deceit and contrivance, shadows cast on the wall in every sense except literal. I even saw a

possible commentary on the viewers of the Truman show, given that they were willingly

consuming the broadcast of a man who had no knowledge of the act being done. The viewers

were effectively voyeurs and privy to the affairs of a man who did not and could not give them

his consent.

It was not until the ending of the movie that I found Truman behaving in a way that

resonated to one of Aristotle’s topics. By the end of the movie, Truman was given a choice—stay

in the paradise that was designed and made for him or leave and enter the “real” world, one that

was completely unknown to him. It was a choice given to him on the spot, and his response was

one that stuck out to me—"In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good

night.". This was a phrase he was wont of saying throughout the movie, and it was one that he

replied with before venturing out into the unknown.

Two things I reflected on upon the movie ending. We have, first, the concept of choice,

and, second, the concept of habit. Aristotle tells us that being virtuous is a choice, one that we

and only we alone must make and stick to. However, choice may not be the best front to

approach given the movie if we’re focusing on the decision he made by the end of the movie, as

that decision was more of a single, life altering kind rather than multiple minor ones that he had

to repeatedly commit to over his life. Habit, I think, is more appropriate.


Habit is a key concept in Aristotle’s discussion of virtue, and, later on, virtue ethics as it

is formulated by modern day scholars. In order to cultivate a certain virtue (or allow a vice to

fester), one must continuously do the act or acts of that nature repeatedly throughout their lives.

It is through habit that virtue ethics is as it is—an ethical model that does not focus on the

consequences of the action (such as consequentialism) or the rules/maxims that are to be

followed (such as deontology) but the execution of acts and, by extension, the virtue these acts

are directed toward to. It is through this reason that virtue ethics is perceived by some as an

ethical model that tells a narrative, specifically the narrative of an individual person that ends

only when said person expires.

With Truman, we see a happy man. I believe this happiness is not primarily because he

is, by his very nature, happy, but because he is of the disposition of being happy, one achieved

through the consistent and deliberate decision of “happy” choices resulting in the creation of its

habit. It is not hard to do this when one lives in a perfect world, but the fabricated reality should

not invalidate the disposition that arose as a result. Even in moments of turmoil and confusion,

when it was slowly being revealed that Truman’s world was a farce, we see Truman choosing to

remain composed through actions that allow for such.

I believe this is what allowed Truman to choose the decision that he did by the end of the

movie. A decision as large as leaving the perfect world that you’ve lived in your entire life for a

world that you’ve no knowledge of, that is no more than an enigma to you, is not one made in a

vacuum. We are what we repeatedly do. Truman’s decision was one made in light of this. There

is no happiness to be found in a world now learned to be but contrived and engineered. It may be

uncertain whether or not happiness can be found in choosing to leave, but it is certain that it shall

be absent if one stays.