The Morality of Assassination: Ethical Quandaries in Fantasy Novels

Explore the complex ethics of assassination in fantasy literature. Delve into quandaries like the lesser of two evils, moral codes, and the path to redemption.

Ah, the intoxicating allure of fantasy novels—those literary escapes where dragons are slain, quests are fulfilled, and apparently, it’s ethical to kill people for money.

Yes, dear readers, we’re talking about the delightful realm of professional make-believers: assassins.

But it’s not all dark cloaks and poisoned daggers; there’s also the niggling issue of morality.

So, let’s cut through the ethical fog like an assassin’s blade through butter, shall we?

When Killing Becomes a Career

What differentiates an assassin from your run-of-the-mill homicidal maniac?

Well, professionalism for starters.

Assassins don’t kill because they have a penchant for death; they kill because they’re paid to do it.

It’s a vocation like any other.

But that raises the question: if one is ‘just doing their job,’ does that absolve them of the moral weight of their actions?

It’s a classic case of separating the ‘work self’ from the ‘personal self,’ except the work involves a substantially higher body count.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Fantasy novels often paint assassinations as necessary evils in a grander scheme.

Kill a corrupt king, and save a kingdom. Eliminate a warlord, prevent a war.

In these instances, the ethics become murky. Can one life be weighed against many?

If the scales tip toward greater good, does that give our assassin a moral free pass?

It’s like choosing to eat a salad over a chocolate cake for the ‘greater good’ of your health, but with far graver consequences.

The Target Matters, Apparently

Here’s a curious double standard: Assassinate a villain, and you’re a hero; kill an innocent, and suddenly you’re a monster.

In other words, the morality of an assassination is often determined not by the act itself, but by the societal value placed on the target.

It’s the ultimate case of victim-blaming where one person’s villain is another person’s hero, yet the ethical evaluation changes based on popular opinion.

The Emotional Detachment Clause

One could argue that assassins don’t make the choice to kill; rather, they serve as an instrument for someone else’s will.

They detach emotionally to carry out their duties, reducing their moral accountability.

But then again, outsourcing your ethical dilemmas doesn’t necessarily absolve you of them. It’s like blaming your dog for eating the last piece of cake.

Convenient, but not exactly just.

The Code of Conduct

Many fantasy novels introduce a ‘code’ that assassins follow—a set of rules or ethics that govern who they can and cannot kill.

This self-imposed moral framework serves as a mechanism to justify their actions. However, whether that code stands up to ethical scrutiny is another matter.

After all, creating your own moral compass doesn’t necessarily mean you’re heading in the right direction.

The Redemption Factor

Ah, the sweet scent of redemption—an aroma more enticing than freshly baked bread.

Fantasy novels love to set their assassins on paths toward redemption, often through acts of heroism or sacrifice.

But does a good deed wash out the bad, or are we simply enjoying a narrative that indulges our desire for clear-cut moral judgments?

The Morality Spectrum

At the end of the day, the ethics of assassination in fantasy novels reflect the complex morality of the real world.

There are no easy answers, only shades of grey—each darker and more ambiguous than the last.

Assassins serve as a lens through which we can examine our own moral compass, forcing us to confront uncomfortable questions about the nature of right and wrong.

So, the next time you find yourself lost in a fantasy world, captivated by the enigmatic allure of an assassin, take a moment to ponder the ethical implications.

Because as much as we might enjoy the escapism, these tales compel us to scrutinize the complicated, messy aspects of morality, offering us not just a story, but a provocative ethical exercise.