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A Simple Essay

By Shawn Nelsen

Who is to say what is good?  What might be a heaven sent fortune for one man might, in deed, be the end of all happiness for another.  This idea, though, brings up an interesting question of ethics and morals in today's Western society.  Is anything inherently good?  In Sam Ramie's movie a simple plan this question is brought to attention using one specific and important part of today's society; money.  In this movie, three men find a crashed plane with over four million dollars cash left inside leaving them with the tough question of what to do with their finding.  Although at first they count the money as a blessing, they soon learn that it is quite the opposite, as it leaves five people dead and two having to live with the guilt of their own actions. The money in this movie eventually reveals itself to be evil by causing corruption, betrayal, and finally death, just as it does in the real world.

Corruption seems to be a major theme in a simple plan.  The characters in the movie seem generally happy before they find the money.  Hank (one of the main characters who finds the money) is a college graduate with a secure job, his own house, a beautiful wife, a baby on the way, and the respect of his neighbors; essentially the American dream.  Although he has more than most people in his town and he himself feels that he has everything he could ever want, the money opens up the door for him to desire more.

Much like Hank, it seems that the majority of western society has all they need to be happy, but given the opportunity will do anything it takes to obtain more.  America, for instance, is one of the richest, if not the richest country in the world.  By all means America should be happy with what she has, although that is never the case.  Even today America is preparing to go to war with Iraq, a much less powerful country, which will, without a doubt, gain for America the opportunity to obtain the rights to many millions of gallons of crude oil and lots of money.  Although America uses more oil than any other country, once given the opportunity for more, more is all she wants. Money and oil lead America down a corrupt path.

Along with the theme of corruption, the movie a simple plan also brings about the theme of betrayal.  The three finders of the money (Hank; Jacob, Hank's brother; and Lou, Jacob's best friend) eventually turn against each other in a chain of betrayal.  First Hank, in order to protect his own interests in the money, betrays Jacob by laying to him and taking advantage of his brotherly trust. After that, Jacob betrays Hank by telling Lou a secret that could get Hank in trouble.  Then, to finally end this chain of betrayals, Lou decides to blackmail Hank to get the money.

Much as money can bring about betrayal in the movie, it can also bring about betrayal in real life society.  Take the case of ENRON for example.  Thousands of people trusted their livelihood to the people who ran the company, only to lose their money and hopes do to the collapse of the corporation.  The sad part is that none of it needed to happen. If the people who ran the company had not been corrupted by their endless pursuit of money for their own prosperity then perhaps they could have gotten their act together in time to prevent the collapse of the company.  Unfortunately, ENRON did collapse, leaving the thousands of people that depended on the company for jobs, money, and security completely betrayed by the corporate swine.

Along with Corruption and Betrayal, the movie a simple plan reminds its viewers that money can also cause death.  Although the killing in this movie starts as what could be called an accident, it shortly turns into complete acts of evil.  To start off the chain of deaths an innocent farmer dies when Jacob hits him in order to stop him from finding the money.  Although Jacob did not mean to kill the farmer, the farmer still dies in the name of money.  The second and third deaths happen at Lou's house when Lou and Hank get in a fight over the money.  Lou, who is drunk and angry, decides to pull out a gun and put it to Hanks head.  In the heat of the moment Jacob grabs his gun and shoots Lou to protect Hank.  After Lou's death, Lou's wife grabs a gun which then entices Hank to kill her out of self-defense.  Although these deaths could be attributed to redneck stupidity, there is still the undeniable fact that they were fighting over money, leading to the conclusion that money caused their death.

Money also causes death in real society.  People get killed on the street for a few measly dollars.  Insurance companies will let sick people die just to save on the expense of certain medications.  Innocent workers will die so that corporations can save a little money on safety devices.  Although these are all good examples, America's aggression on Iraq (before mentioned) is the best example.  In America's endless pursuit for money and oil, there is no doubt that many innocent Iraqis will die.      

            In the supposed on going battle between good and evil, is evil proving its self to be the victor?  Although no one can say for sure what is good and what is evil, it is not hard to see how money can be presumed evil. If this is the case and money is evil, then surly evil is winning.  Money, after all, seems to hold the power to corrupt people, have people betray the men and women who trust them, and even cause one friend to kill another.  Even with all the harm that money can cause it is still the number one thing that people crave. Money is what people plan for, work for, and strive for.  Money is what people live for and kill for.  Surly if evil does exist, then money is its glorious triumph!