By definition, virtue which comes from Latin: virtus and Greek: ????? ;arete; is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Each individual has a core of underlying values that contribute to his or her system of beliefs, ideas and opinions. Aristotle holds the view that moral virtues are states of character lying at the mean between extremes of excess and deficiency. He claims that moral virtues are to be distinguished from intellectual virtues. Moral virtue has to do with feeling, choosing, and acting well while intellectual virtue is identified as a kind of wisdom acquired by teaching.
But not all states of character are virtues because vices can be found in a larger number.For example in the book L;etranger by Albert Camus, one of the main characters is Meursault, who has more vices than virtues in the novel. He shows no affection when he finds out about his mother;s death and he kills a man being conscious and accepting what he has done .Furthermore, he helps out Raymond in his plan to torment his mistress by writing a letter to her which will lure her in.
When Raymond had a gun, Meursault persuaded Raymond to give it to him for safekeeping but used it himself in the end. However a main virtue of Meursault is honesty. He is honest to himself and to others throughout the novel and one thing that I find extremely important is that he doesn;t feel it necessary to lie in order to make the others feel better. He is honest even if he knows that the truth will hurt.
In chapter four we can notice that Meursault is very direct to Marie when he tells her that it does not matter if they get married and when he gave her a vague answer telling her the he probably doesn;t love her but this thing is not important. Because Meursault is not an usual character his honesty can be discussed as being a vice in the end. He was shut down by the society because of being honest and telling the truth in the courtroom.
A main vice in societies eyes was that he was an atheist and did not believe in an after life. In fact, he believed in the philosophy of existentialism where you control your activities and your future.Another important character, Marie Cardona, can be seen as the opposite of Meursault. Love is her main virtue.
She has a strong felling of love for Meursault and wants to become his wife. Her strong feelings can be noticed when she visits and supports Meursault after he is in jail for committing murder. Her behavior shows that love crosses all the borders.Another good example where virtue can be noticed is Le cid, the tragic play that is considered Corneille;s first masterpiece.
Don Rodrigue is Le Cid, a legendary hero.He is in love with Chimene and Don Diegue is his father. There is a mix of virtues in this play, the most important ones being love and honor. We can distinguish different types of love throughout the play. First there is the love of Rodrigue for his father. He is willing to sacrifice his own love for Chimene in order to avenge his father. The farher and son relationship is strong but it is not as strong as Rodrigue;s love for Chimene.
However, Rodrigue is willing to lose the love of his life, Chimene in order to protect his father. This is because Rodrigue realizes that he has no choice and he knows he will lose her no matter what he will do. If he kills her father, his honor will be restored but Chimene will not be willing to marry him. If he doesn;t kill her father, his honor will not be restored and he will lose the love and the respect of his father. Although Rodrigue loves his father, it is for his father;s and also for himself that he faces Don Gomes. The conversation between Don Diegue and Don Rodrigue shows that Don Diegue has a lot of respect for his father and he loves him.Anybody apart from his father will be punished of questioning.
‘ DON DIEGUERodrigue, as-tu du coeur?DON RODRIGUE?Tout autre que mon pere?L;eprouverait sur l;heure.;( I.vi. 263-265)However, it is for his love for Chimene that Rodrigue is willing to lose his own life. He feels there is no way to live without Chimene and he would rather die by her hand than any one else;s. In other words he loves Chimene more than his life.
Furthermore Chimene shows the love for his father when she begs the king for justice.‘CHIMENESire, Sire, justice!DON DIEGUEAh, Sire, ecoutez-nous.CHIMENE