How To Train Your Dragon Essay

1428 words - 6 pages


In the film, How to Train Your Dragon, the Vikings are at war, fighting for their institutions and peace from their existential threat, the Dragons. The Vikings are in a society in which the institutions reflect their historical struggles and have shaped them to be close-minded to any peaceful interaction with Dragons. Thus, in How to Train Your Dragon, the institutions that the Vikings had, represented what Rousseau saw as being a society with a self-interest social contract of the majority. This causes estrangement between their civilization and the Dragons. The Vikings eventually form a new social contract, in which the Vikings and Dragons represent Rousseau's general will of equality as rationally as possible given the Dragons are not on the same intellect level.
The Vikings formed a society that’s institutions caused a loss in compassion and was focused on self-interest. Institutions being: “The organizational structure through which political power is exercised” (116). Rousseau believed “that all of society, not just political society, is corrupt” (58). This moral corruption that exists is caused by the formation of institutions that set the basis for a group identity and beliefs, the Vikings. Group identity is, “the degree to which members identify with a group” (56). This identity leads to an estrangement among those who are outsiders. The institutions promote the use of collective action: “A coordinated group activity designed to achieve a common goal that individuals acting on their own could not otherwise attain” (42). This collective action is the Vikings pursue to destroy the Dragon population. The Vikings view the Dragons as “pest” who steal their food and destroy their land (How to Train Your Dragon). So, the institutions instilled in the society that the only way to handle the Dragons was to kill them. The institutions also cause the belief that slaying a Dragon is seen as heroic and a right of passage. Hiccup shows this belief when he says to Gobber, “Please, two minutes! I'll kill a dragon, my life will get infinitely better, I might even get a date” (How to Train Your Dragon). Hiccup’s desire to be accepted by the institution is exactly what Rousseau believed to be the cause of estrangement. The institution puts expectations on how the individual should act to be considered part of the society and in the film “killing a dragon is everything around here” this is the only way to be accepted (How to Train Your Dragon). This is shown when Hiccup refuses to kill the dragon that he so rightfully won the right to kill because of his “heroic” actions in the arena, and Stoick becomes outraged by his son’s act of refusal and tells Hiccup, “You’ve thrown your lot in with them. You are not a Viking. You are not my son” (How to Train Your Dragon). This loss of compassion that Stoick presents towards his son’s refusal shows the effect of the institutions and how their beliefs caused estrangement. How did these institutions affect the...

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