December 14, 2020
Technology on Psychological Health
In society there are set boundaries for morals and values that individuals consider incorrect or correct. Individuals in society however have their own sets of morals and values in their own mind and also when it comes to decision making. Society usually judges others’ actions and decision making if the individual makes it public. In this course, I’ve learned that ethics control an individuals’ decision making because those are the principles that the individual lives by. There are a few specific ethics that were covered this semester that is seen in literature when it comes to characters’ actions and morals. In the short story “The Veldt” by Ray Bradury, we see two of the specific ethics was brought up this semester, Virtue ethics and also Utilitarianism ethics. Virtue ethics is when the individual chooses their decision or action y thinking of the consequences and “what kind of person” each decision would make them be. Virtue ethics can both be positive and negative and does not give the individual a conscience to go by. Utilitarianism ethics is when the individual uses their conscience to make the morally correct decision because doing the right thing will bring the most good energy out. Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” portrays these two specific types of ethics with his characters and what they base their decision making on throughout the story.
The short story is about a family that has a very advanced and expensive house that has a built in system that does everything for the family. George and Lydia the parents allow the “Happy Life Home” to do chores for the children, tuck them into bed, dress them, and a lot of other necessities an individual would have to do on their own. However, the children Wendy and Peter’s favorite part of their technologically advanced home is the Nursery. The Nursery is a room in their house that allows the children to think of any place or situation and they will be able to instantly live in their desired location. George and Lydia don’t have the closest relationship to their children because their home system does all the bonding that a parent would do with their child. George and Lydia also don’t really enforce any rules to their children about the house, the children are used to doing whatever they please which makes them stubborn. As the story goes along the parents start to get worried about Wendy and Peter spending too much time in the nursery and thinking of crazy situations that can mess their young and developing minds up so they suggest that they shut down the house’s system. Of course the children are not content about the decision that their parents are making because George and Lydia always base their decision making off of what the children desire. Since the children are so stubborn and feel as the house’s system and nursery are their parent figure, the story takes a twist and the children actually end up murdering their parents in the nursery by thinking of a situation with lions trapping them and eating them at the end of the story.
George and Lydia decision make based on their children, they feel that they need to make decisions to make the children happy and please them. This is because the children are stubborn and are always used to getting whatever they want at any time because of how their life is ran with their technologically advanced house. Towards the beginning of the story George and Lydia talk about the special room they got for the children in the house which is the nursery and how it was expensive but if it’s for the kids they’re determined to do anything to please them. “ it had cost half as much as the rest of the house. But nothing’s too good for our children, George had said.” (Bradbury 1) This quote shows how George and Lydia aren’t typical parents and don’t have morals that parents should have, when your children are growing up, as a parent you have to teach them discipline and how to deal with the answer no sometimes. However from this quote we see the parents don’t have a conscience when it comes to their decisions as long as the kids are happy with what their parents decided. George and Lydia’s decision making represents Utilitarianism ethics because we see that they both don’t decide for themselves but they decide based on their children’s reactions and feelings. The parents must think that if they keep pleasing their children repeatedly with anything that it will produce more good for the family which is wrong and it makes the kids stubborn and messes up their young developing minds psychologically. “They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang was good to them.” (Bradbury 1) This other quote from the beginning of the story shows how much money the parents have invested on their home for the children. The children cannot even do simple tasks like dress themselves or feed themselves. Peter and Wendy rely strictly on the technology in their house but their parents don’t see anything wrong with that because they believe and use Utilitarianism ethics to choose their decisions. They don’t see that relying and buying this house will not let their children develop and grow but they think they are making the correct decision because they want to bring the most pleasure to produce the most good. George and Lydia do not understand the principles and morals that you have to take as a parent when raising their children correctly which is why the story ends how it does.
Throughout the story and towards the ending we see more representation of Virtue ethics, the biggest one is when the children make the decision that they are going to rebel against their parents from turning off the technology in the house. The children are very stubborn and are used to always having their way so when George says he is going to turn off the house they do everything they can to stop their parents, eventually killing them. “Daddy, Mommy, come quick! They went downstairs in the air flue and ran down the hall. The children were nowhere in sight. Wendy? Peter! The door slammed…. Why, they’ve locked it from the outside!” (Bradury 8) This is when Wendy and Peter trick their parents into running into the nursery and they lock them inside. We can see Virtue ethics being portrayed here because Wendy and Peter are selfish and will do anything to get their way, they have no morals or principles and have no problems doing this to their parents as long as they get what they want which is their Happylife Home. “The lions on three sides of them, in the yellow veldt grass, padding through the dry straw, rumbling and roaring in their throats. The lions. Mr. Hadley looked at his wife and they turned and looked back at the beasts edging slowly forward crouching, tails stiff. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed. And suddenly they realized why those other screams bad sounded familiar.”(Bradbury 8) This quote is when George and Lydia get murdered by the lions that their children had produced with their imagination with the nursery. The screams that George and Lydia heard earlier in the story were actually their own screams because Wendy and Peter had actually already thought about murdering their parents and finally executed it when something didn’t go their way. Virtue ethics is more about self-centered decisions and these ethics don’t provide any morals or guidance which can be seen when Wendy and Peter make a cruel and selfish decision to their parents.
There is a moment in the story that represents both Utilitarianism ethics and Virtue ethics. When Lydia talks about how the house is more of a mother than her and she feels depressed and miserable because she feels like she isn’t there and important to her children. George decides to step in and he tells the children later at dinner that he will turn off the technology in the whole house for a while. “”I wouldn’t want the nursery locked up,” said Peter coldly. “Ever.” “Matter of fact, we’re thinking of turning the whole house off for about a month.” (Bradury 6) This is when George breaks the important news of what he is deciding to do to the house for a month to the children. However, I’m sure this represents Utilitarianism ethics because he is basing this decision off of his wife and how she feels useless because she doesn’t have a role as a mother due to the house being there for her kids more than her. He is doing this for Lydia but also at the same time we can say that this decision of shutting the house down is a Virtue ethic because he does not consider what his children feel and saying. George is doing this for himself as a parent also which can be considered a selfish decision and more of a choice for himself.
In conclusion, the short story “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury is a perfect story that represents both Virtue and Utilitarianism ethics. Bradbury portrays this through the plot and most importantly through the actions and decisions of the characters. Peter and Wendy are two stubborn and undisciplined children whose minds were messed up due to relying on technology and always getting their way which is why they make such crazy self -centered decisions like murdering their parents as long as they get what they want. George and Lydia are parents without any principles and do anything for their children as long as it pleases them because they think it is going to bring out more positive and good for their family however in the story it’s the complete opposite and it actually gets them killed at the end. Bradbury does an amazing job with the characters explaining how they make their decisions and why they make their decisions by developing the characters throughout the plot. The Veldt is a short story that portrays the two ethics throughout the characters’ morals and principles.
Scanlan, S. (2020) Five types of Ethics https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/profscanlan-english2001-fiction-f2020/files/2020/11/Five-types-of-Ethics-fall-2020.docx
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury http://hthcvfolks.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/3/6/13360453/the-veldt-ray-bradbury-pdf_1.pdf