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Michael Clayton – Arthur ethics

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Position Paper #3

Getting ready to sit through this movie, I had no prior knowledge of what the film was going to try and portray to us, but I was intrigued to see Arthur Eden’s rant kick the movie off right away. Having read this assignment prior to watching the movie and knowing I was going to have to choose one specific character from the movie, Arthur had obtained my interest right away in doing so. As Arthur is losing his mind in the beginning of the movie and strips down during the middle of his deposition, he starts to realize his life is in complete shambles, he knows he can’t go on being the prestigious senior litigation partner of the New York City law firm any longer than he currently has been.

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He also can’t grasp the concept of being apart of the firm if they were to ever get caught for their illegal doings. Arthur is then arrested and bailed out by fellow attorney Michael.

As Michael is informed of Arthur’s actions by the head of his legal firm Marty Bach, that Clayton tells Bach that he understands and saw this coming since he has basically “lived” out this case for the past decade, doing his daily job. As Michael arrives and sits down to talk to Arthur, it is clear that Arthur is starting to lose his mind by his anxious and excited personality, not taking his prescription, and isn’t happy with the shoes he has been in through these years. He tells Michael, “six years I’ve absorbed this poison,” continuing to express how wrong all of his doings for those past years have been dwelling in his head, and clearly to the point where he’s not able to handle acting sane anymore.

The movie shows a great amount of underlying storytelling right away in pulling in us viewers who are watching. As Arthur fights for U-North in this civil case, he realizes he is obtaining feelings for one of the plaintiffs who is involved against U-North. When he is screaming at Michael in the holding cell, he tells him that he is no longer a “slave” to his medication and his eyes have been opened to a new woman he has met, Anna. As Arthur lost it in the deposition, all he kept saying was that Anna was right.

The events leading up to Arthur losing it during the middle of the deposition is caused by not being able to hold his firm U-North out on top trying to defend a “weed killer” product any longer. Michael starts to raise his voice, trying to talk some sense into Arthur, reminding him how valuable he is to the firm and that they can’t afford to give up any legal information that can come around and screw them over. Since Arthur is clearly not on the same page anymore and is falling for a woman who is trying to sue against their company, Michael becomes very concerned and hears Arthur describe himself as “The Shiva of Death.” Personally, I couldn’t imagine putting myself in the shoes of a man or attorney similar to Arthur. It is inevitable that when you do things such as invest all your hard earned time and effort into dealing with illegal matters, it will only build up so much before you start to lose it. Arthur was a man who did his job professionally and did it very well. As he gets arrested out of the deposition and is put in a police station in Milwaukee, he knows deep down but un-admittedly that he won’t take any more of this personal torture to himself working for something he doesn’t believe in anymore.

In Giving Voice to Values, we see two concepts contrasting specific situations where we stand up for ourselves in trying to speak ethically and resolving conflict in ways that associate our values, and the other concept where we are unable to speak up and stand for our values given certain circumstances. To me, this is the perfect position to put Arthur in from this movie. In the chapter of Giving Voice to Values, we are given specific questions in dealing with being able to voice our values when they conflict with what is expected of us and when we haven’t spoken up to resolve the conflict defending our values in trying to do what is expected. Arthur for sure puts his values in front as time came around and he was arrested for his actions.

By standing up in the middle of the deposition and voicing that Anna was right and he can’t take this anymore, clearly he is losing his mind by getting undressed and raising his voice, but at the end of the day that is just the innocence inside of him screaming and really fighting his way out of being in the position he’s been put in. In standing up for our values in a situation where we are expected to do something against our values, Giving Voice to Values has some questions that it asks in the following steps of how we came to do so.

The four questions ask, what did you do and what was the impact? What motivated you to speak up and act? How satisfied are you and how would you like to have responded? What would have made it easier for you to speak or act? In this case, we know that Arthur didn’t make ethical decisions in standing up for what he thought was right. He was put in a situation presenting in this deposition where he wasn’t mentally ready to handle going through how he felt anymore. On top of that, his feelings gained towards Anna must have played a role in how he went about approaching defending U-North and his ability to hold his own through the case. Morally speaking, Arthur did what was right and what was best for him. He didn’t have the option any longer to hold himself in and although he could have made it easier for himself by not getting arrested, I don’t think anyone in Arthur’s shoes would be able to properly go about handling how he felt. Next in Giving Voice to Values, we see a situation where we don’t hold our values as we respond to conflict.

The questions the book asks are, what happened? Why didn’t you speak up and act / what would have motivated you to do so? How satisfied are you or how would you like to have responded? What would have made it easier for you to speak and act? Through it all, we see Arthur representing both sides of what Giving Voice to Values is asking us in this situation. Arthur doesn’t have control of his situation, which reflects him not being able to deal with his values going against his job. In today’s world, this is a good mirror image of what society is really like. We are raised in a society where money rules all, where it’s not about what people want anymore it’s about doing the things you need to do just to get by. In this movie, that was Arthur, only doing what he knows how to do and not making a stand for him through the “six years of poison absorption.” Arthur represents both sides of these questions from the book, although he doesn’t completely stand for his values by letting it get to the point where he just isn’t capable of mentally dealing with the stress anymore, he also stands up tall to Michael and tells him he is going for Anna and she has helped to “open his eyes.”

Sadly, as Arthur is dealing with all of this, U-North doesn’t like the fact that he is coming off as unstable as he is. They know if he lets out any information that the firm itself is done for and many of the information Arthur could release would be used against them in a court of law. In understanding this knowledge, they planted bugs through his apartment and phone. By doing this, they see he’s building a new case to expose his own client. When they gained an understanding of this, they put a hit out on him by two men. They murdered him and left him at a scene resembling a drug over-dose or a heart attack.

Cite this Michael Clayton – Arthur ethics

Michael Clayton – Arthur ethics. (2016, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/michael-clayton-arthur-ethics/

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