The movie “The Piano,” begins with a mute Scotswoman, Ada, who is sold into marriage by her father to a New Zealand frontiersman. A ship’s crew drops off Ada and her daughter, Flora, on a beach with her belongings. Her piano gets left be hide due to insufficient men being able to carry her items to her new home. Baines, a man who lives in their community, becomes attracted to her and surprises her by retrieving the piano. In time, they fall in love. However, Ada’s husband finds out and threatens both of them. But in the end, he gives up and ends their marriage.
In the film, there are multiple ethical dilemmas. First, Ada and Baines make an agreement over the ownership of the piano. Baines tells her that she can buy her piano back. However, she needs to visit him every week and give him “lessons.” These lessons consist of her playing the piano and allowing him to do “anything that he desires.” Ada agrees and visits him every week. The ethical dilemma in this situation is that she is married. She is fully aware that Baines has feelings for her and knows that he wants something more. In one scene, he asks her to undress herself and just lay down with him naked. This is not proper way for a married person to act. It would be considered immoral. Yet, she does it and continues to visit him.
In addition, the second ethical dilemma is Ada committing adultery. After “buying back” her piano, she goes to Baines’ house. Knowing well that she will be hurting her husband and daughter, who has become close to her new “papa,” she starts the affair. She goes back to visit him and reveals her feelings for him. Once she demonstrates that she desires him, he takes her to bed. In society, this is considered to be morally wrong. She breaks the promise that she makes to her husband and pursues a relationship with another man. Therefore, she is betraying her husband and daughter.
The ethical positions that Ada takes in the films are doing things that will only benefit her. For example, when she makes the arrangement with Baines, she selfishly did it for herself. Reason being, she was willing to do anything to retrieve the piano. She felt that getting her piano back was more important than being loyal to her husband. She fooled her husband in believing that she was only giving Baines “lessons” and nothing more. Second, she begins a relationship with another man. She betrays his trust and takes advantage of his kindness. She pursues her desires and hurts her husband and daughter in the process.
Furthermore, there are some fallacies in the film. Ada’s husband finds out about the affair and threatens their relationship. He believes that by hurting Ada, he cuts her index finger, will scare her to stop the affair and be faithful to him. This is not true. Reason being, her feeling her Baines will not change. He cannot make someone to be faithful by force; it is something that comes naturally. Therefore, his decision to scare Ada to be faithful is not correct.
Overall, the ethical issues that are brought up in this film are real life situations that occur in many people’s lives. I cannot support the ethical position that Ada decides to take in this film, but I can understand why she did it. She was force into a marriage that she did not want to be in, and she was force to give up her most valued belonging: her piano. In the end, she did what made her happy and decided that it was worth the consequences.