Applying the Virtues
As previously discussed, prudence is the mother and mold of all virtues. Because Oscar did not exercise prudence in the film, he also failed to exercise any of the other virtues. Oscar failed to exercise prudence as he did not have docilitas nor solertia. He did not have docilitas as he failed to listen to the advice that his best friend Angie was giving him. Angie found Lenny hiding in the garage and discovered that Oscar was not telling the truth. She advised him to come clean to the public and stop living in a lie just for the sake of living a luxurious life. Similarly, Oscar did not have solertia as he failed to look at the situation clearly. His vision was clouded by his disordered value system, and as a result he was placing emphasis on all of the wrong things.
Oscar, in fact, exercised both false prudence and imprudence. For example, Oscar exercised fake prudence when he staged the event where he “slayed” Lenny. He believed that he was acting carefully as he was trying to save himself and the image that he had created, however he was not acting prudently as this carefulness was being implemented in a corrupt manner. Similarly, Oscar acted imprudently, particularly due to his agitatedness and thoughtlessness. He was agitated in the sense that he was scared that the sharks were seeking revenge and were going to kill him. He therefore made the imprudent decision to “slay” another shark. Oscar was also thoughtless: he failed to think on the situation and realize the potential consequences of taking credit for killing a shark.
As previously stated, the end of the film shows Oscar with a new, more virtuous life that is more suited to his eudaimon. In order to stay on this path, Oscar will have to exercise prudence. Particularly, Oscar must exercise memoria – he must remember all that happened to him when he pretended to be the shark slayer, all that he lost as a result, and prudently act to ensure that a disordered value system does not lead to a similar situation.
This film is an excellent example of the difference between the more traditional definition of courage (i.e. bravery in the face of something that frightens you) and virtuous courage. Oscar believes that he is being courageous when he decides to portray himself as a shark slayer, even after he realizes the potential dangers involved. He has the idea that standing up to big, scary sharks makes him a courageous individual. Oscar is not quite exercising false courage, as this occurs when you tell the truth only when it costs you nothing – and Oscar is not telling the truth. He is, however, failing to have courage as a result of his covetousness and disordered values.
Virtuous courage occurs when you willingly accept loss without measuring it. Oscar practices virtuous courage near the end of the movie...