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Comparative Analysis of A Few Good Men

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The motion picture A Few Good Men challenges the question of why Marines obey their superiors’ orders without hesitation. The film illustrates a story about two Marines, Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey charged for the murder of Private First Class William T. Santiago. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, who is known to be lackadaisical and originally considers offering a plea bargain in order to curtail Dawson’s and Downey’s sentence, finds himself fighting for the freedom of the Marines; their argument: they simply followed the orders given for a “Code Red”. The question of why people follow any order given has attracted much speculation from the world of psychology. Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist, conducted an experiment in which randomly selected students were asked to deliver “shocks” to an unknown subject when he or she answered a question wrong. In his article, “The Perils of Obedience”, Milgram concludes anyone will follow an order with the proviso that it is given by an authoritative figure. Two more psychologists that have been attracted to the question of obedience are Herbert C. Kelman, a professor at Harvard University, and V. Lee Hamilton, a professor at the University of Maryland. In their piece, Kelman and Hamilton discuss the possibilities of why the soldiers of Charlie Company slaughtered innocent old men, women, and children. The Marines from the film obeyed the ordered “Code Red” because of how they were trained, the circumstances that were presented in Guantanamo Bay, and they were simply performing their job.

The question of why these Marines obeyed the “Code Red” may be answered by Stanley Milgram’s conclusions from his experiment on obedience. When asked by Kaffee, while...

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...mi Moore. Columbia Pictures, 1992. Film.

Baumrind, Diana. “Review of Stanley Milgram’s Experiments on Obedience”. Writing & Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Thomas E. Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009. 224-229. Print.

Kelman, Herbert C., Hamilton, V. Lee. “The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience”. Writing & Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Thomas E. Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009. 266-277. Print.

Mcleod, Saul. Obedience in Psychology. Simply Psychology, 2007. Web. 6 November 2011.

Milgram, Stanley. “The Perils of Obedience”. Writing & Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Thomas E. Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009. 212-224. Print.

Powers, Rod. About.com, US Military. Military Orders: To Obey or Not to Obey? N.D. Web. 6 November 2011.
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