A Theme Of Following Natural Instincts In Dante Alighieri’S Inferno And The Movie Get Out
Everyone has had that inner voice that gives somebody an “I have a bad feeling” moment, but whether we listen to it or not is at our discretion. When people are in a potentially dangerous situation, they usually have this feeling that something is wrong. Most people can not explain why they feel that something is wrong, but they know to listen to that inner voice. What happens when someone disregards their inner voice? For most people, ignoring one’s instinct gives them the bad outcome, it lands one in the “sunken place” or even one of Dante Alighieri’s nine circles of hell. What if their inner voice is telling them two different things, either save oneself (self-interest) or risk oneself to save others (compassion)? Instinct can be a powerful tool to avoid adverse outcomes because intuition gives us immediate insight. In director Jordan Peele’s Get Out, the “sunken place” is portrayed as a state of trivial control in one’s actions. Get Out’s “sunken place” is a modern day revision of Dante Alighieri’s purgatory. Both versions depict a version or a part of hell where one is neither punished or rewarded, simply one is helpless and voiceless. In Peele’s version, the “sunken place” is a state one’s mind goes into, rather than a place. Instinct is defined by the American Psychological Association as, “an innate, species-specific biological force that impels an organism to do something, particularly to perform a certain act or respond in a certain manner to specific stimuli” (APA Dictionary of Psychology).
Basically, instinct is a deeply rooted behavioral mechanism that prompts specific species to behave in certain manners. For example, Instinct can be observed when we see someone in need of assistance then we offer to help. This is an example of the compassionate instinct, or the instinct that prompts us to alleviate those in pain or suffering. The compassionate instinct is one of two basic human instincts that affect survival, and is the direct opposite of self-interest. In contrast to the previous example, is the bystander effect, the declining need to assist someone in the presence of other people. One’s inclination to genuinely help diminish someone’s suffering is altered when others are present. For example, a student bystander watches as a bully publicly ridicules another student into submission in front of a crowd. The student bystander is less inclined to help with the crowd there and more likely to if it was just the three of them. As I mentioned before, there are two main basic instincts that affect survival and the prevention of bad outcomes which are the compassion instinct and survival instinct. At face value, compassion instinct may not seem like it will lead to the “sunken place” or hell, but it is our connection to other people that will either punish us by sending us to a hell or reward us by sending us to heaven. Hell is referred to either figuratively or literally, so heaven must also be considered as such.
“Compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help”). This means one’s want and need to help somebody without the expectancy of a reward is as, “Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley coin[ed] a ‘compassionate instinct’”. There are two main parts to compassion: empathy and altruism. Both connected to social ties with other people. Empathy is the emotional mirroring of another person. Towards the end of the movie Get Out, a police car approaches a bloody Chris, the main protagonist, and I felt the irony of the situation as he most likely did. Chris fought his way out of the Armitage’s grasp only to be caught as he is in the middle of taking his revenge on his girlfriend, Rose. I felt the betrayal that Chris felt towards Rose, as I’ve experienced betrayal in my own life. My experiences helped me empathize with what Chris was feeling, and therefore I wanted him to overcome his obstacles. Altruism is the actions taken in concern of others, regardless of what happens to the benefactor. Altruism can occur in small situations, like helping an elderly cross the street. A more severe example of altruism is running in a burning building to save people. As I’ve previously mentioned, in an example where a bully subjugates and shames another student, a perfect example of altruism is helping the student escape the bully’s harassment. To help the bullied student, one must either feel altruistic or empathy towards the suffering of the student. The stimulus provokes an emotional or simply the unselfish concern for the student’s health.
Altruism, being the practice of selfless acts, is a practice and many times does not require much thought or if any. The altruistic half of compassion is the quickest form of instant insight or instinct. Empathy requires a few moments for one to recognize another’s feelings and reflect them in the same way, and then act upon those feelings. Although it may not seem like it, compassion is a significant instinct in avoiding the “sunken place” and hell. In the movie Get Out, Rod Williams realizes that his friend Chris Washington is in trouble and attempts to persuade the police to help investigate. Throughout the movie, whenever the audience sees Rod, he is constantly providing advice and warnings throughout the film. Rod is consistently depended on by Chris. This is shown when he takes care of Chris’s dog, and shows responsibility in feeding Chris’s dog only dog food. When Rod realizes the potential danger Chris may be in, he selflessly acts on his deduction that the Armitage family is turning black people into sex slaves. Comedically he is wrong, or possibly not, but either way Rod drives to the Armitage estate to presumably break his friend out of whatever trouble he was in regardless of any potential danger he could be in. Rod’s character was the epitome of compassionate instinct. According to Dacher Keltner, compassion relays the message that one’s trustworthiness is worthy of forming a long-lasting connection with. Compassionate instincts helps everyone survive by the way of connections. Survival instinct is the self-centered act of preserving one’s life and legacy. Survival instinct is the most basic instinct in all animals. It’s ineffective if one prioritizes others survival against their own. The fact is there is always the chance that somebody fails at their task of saving others, and in those instances two people instead of one is lost. The priority of one’s own survival is more important than just human instinct alone. It’s actually the foundation of evolution, and of all biological things. If plants evolved in a way that was beneficial for other species, that species would eventually perish. Even plants have to prioritize their own adaptability, so it can fend off against anything that threatens its existence. Jim Taylor Ph. D, states, “The human instinct to survive is our most powerful drive. ” Our survival instincts are not coincidentally our fastest defense mechanism. Deeply encoded in our dna, as well as the dna of all living things, is the rule to live. Instinct is a powerful survival mechanism that can warn us about dangers that potentially can happen to us and the ones we care about.
Both Inferno and Get Out had examples of people ignoring their instincts and going to a “sunken place, ” or Dante’s version of hell. Both of the protagonists had instinct, although made the choice to ignore their instincts which led them to a psychical and mental hell. Both also shared an important companion that was compassionate towards them. In Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, we follow a medieval poet by the name of Dante. In the beginning of the story, Dante is lost in the woods and does not remember how he lost his way. His beloved Beatrice sends help in the form of Virgil to guide him through hell and to heaven. Virgil guides Dante through the nine rings of hell. Each circle’s punishment symbolically represents the sin those souls have committed. For example, the Second Circle, also known as the circle of lust, is home to sinners who could not control their sexual desire, and are therefore blown away uncontrollably by violent winds. Instinct is the instantaneous intuition one’s mind tells themself in order to avoid dangerous ordeals. To ensure maximum survivability, one must always prioritize themselves before others, in the case of failure. Strong bonds created from helping each other strengthen one’s survivability. Generally, most people have better or safer outcomes after following their instinct.
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