What stages of moral development does Speilberg show in his film Schindler's List with the character of Amon Goeth?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Regrettably, there is not much in way of moral development with Amon Goeth.  I think that part of this is deliberate.  It is essential that the film represents the Nazis with a lack of moral development or moral stature.  In telling the story of the Holocaust as a type of morality play, the Nazis represent the end of the morality spectrum where there is little in terms of spiritual redemption or development.   There are a few moments when Goeth does represent this.  These moments have to be taken in isolation rather than representative of his whole character, which does not show much in way of development.  The moment when Goeth pardons the servant for not cleaning the tub well enough might be one example where moral development towards a social convention end is enhanced.  Schindler's discussion of how society functions on a conception of power whereby individuals are able to pardon one another is something that Goeth represents in this instant.  It is undercut by his recognition of a filthy nail from the mirror and he takes his rifle and shoots the boy in the back from a distance.  Yet, in an isolated instant, we see the idea of moral development for a split- second.  Obviously, when Goeth makes the deal for Schindler's workers, there is a reflection of a moral development out of self interest, in terms of "What's in it for me?"  Goeth represents behavior driven by motives that strictly benefit the self, in his exchange for Schindler's workers for money.  In these two moments, there might be some level of moral development on Goeth's part, but again, these would have to be looked in isolation.  As Goeth is killed, his final words praising Hitler would conclude that his life has been one where little in way of moral development has been reached.

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