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Social and Moral Responsibilities Are Often Sacrificed in the Face of Reality

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‘Most people don’t have time to be the idealists you want them to be. They’re too busy paying off the mortgage and feeding their kids.’

Social and moral responsibilities are often sacrificed in the face of reality. Discuss.

Para 1- Extinction does in need show characters who forgo social and moral responsibilities is the face of reality – DB is shown both her personal and moral relationship in order to pursue her professional career and attempt to save the tiger quoll

Para 2- this idea is further reinforced through Andy’s isolation of himself, due to his illness he isolates himself from his family and friends to spare himself and others the pain as he cannot face reality

Para 3- at the same time, however, this is shown to not always be the case Piper and Harry are both shown to be characters who attempt to hold onto what they believe to be their moral and social responsibility.

Hannie Rayson’s play Extinction focuses on and explores the intricacies of complicated human relationships and their dominating effect on humanities attempts to save the environment. Following the adventures of Piper, Heather, Harry and Andy the play captivates the audience throughout plot as the main cast deal with the complicated effects social and moral responsibilities have on their attempt to have the Tiger Quoll. The play explores the stark contrast between an ideal situation and the harsh reality, what individuals have to sacrifice. While at the same time leaving the audience with a degree of hope with characters throughout the play being determined to not sacrifice their ideals regardless of the situation. The play Extinction reveals to an individual the harshness of reality and what is needed to be sacrificed in order to achieve what a person is aiming for while also revealing that perhaps morals and social responsibility do have a place in society despite the harshness of reality.

Throughout the play Extinction, Heather Dixon Brown (DB) is presented as a pragmatic and logical think who through years of experience has come to understand the need to “Use my head. Not my heart.”. As the Director of the CAPE institute, DB feels the immense weight of advising and heading the governments initiative to preserves species and the environment around Victoria. Due to Db’s position she has a full understanding of just how severe the current situation in the Victoria, she is well aware of the shortage of money and understand the implications “Government departments need a strategy that will deliver the highest probability of success,” in order to meet this demand and save as many species as possible” DB has been forces to forgo all moral high ground and develop the Dixon Brown Index an algorithm which results in any species with a population under five thousand to be the declared “functionally extinct”, being called a “Calculus of death” by Piper many people may consider the index as inhumane and morally wrong. DB has been willing to give up some much of her social and moral responsibility that it even goes so far as to develop a strained relationship with her brother Andy who resents his sister becoming a ‘pin-up girl for coal mining’. Despite the implication on their relationship and even acknowledging that she is aware what she is doing is wrong ‘I think it’s dirty money.’ DB is willing to make this sacrifice for what she understands will be the biggest project her department has ever undertaken saving not just Tiger Quolls but also having some dramatic implications for the improvement of the entire ecosystem. DB is willing to sacrifice her social and moral responsibilities in order to do to what she sees as ultimately right doing everything it takes to preserve her professional persona and look after the environment which idealism has no place and a world where a harsh reality is the only reality for her.

Rayson’s Extinction continues to follow the theme of sacrificing ones social and moral responsibilities when faced with a harsh reality. However, where DB was willing to go to extreme lengths sacrificing both her moral and social life, her brother Andy is portrayed as only being willing to sacrifice his social responsibilities when faced with a harsh reality. Diagnosed with GSS at the age of thirteen Andy Dixon Brown has been determined to not ‘live my life as a dying man’, so when at the end of Act 1 Scene 1 his debilitating and terminal illness begins to show itself Andy is faced with the harsh reality that he is indeed living his life as a dying man. In response to this development while still grieving this development and attempting to protect both himself and Piper, Andy deliberately begins to cut himself off from his friends and family ‘I’m not going to ask her to waste her life.’, Andy recognises that Piper cares incredibly deeply for those who are close to her and would do anything she could to save them “if you loved someone and they were dying, you would do everything you could to help them.” As evident in the lengths, she is willing to go to save her dog's life. Like DB in order to do what he thinks is right, he is willing to sacrifice his social responsibilities. In contrast, however, Andy is unwilling to shed his morals standing his ground against any argument that what Piper and DB are doing is for the greater good “fight…until the day I can no longer stand up or form words that make sense.” Showing that while a person may be willing to shed their social responsibilities that does not necessarily mean that they are willing to forgo morals as well. The sacrificing of one doesn’t necessarily require the sacrificing of the other.

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