How Ethical was Puss-in-Boots? - [website] Email Print
Published: 2nd of Mar 2009 by: (c) Debbie Engelbrecht

I am not sure that Puss in Boots was that ethical …

The story of Puss in Boots is a fascinating one. It certainly ties in with the concept of "fake it till you make it!", but was the darn cat ethical?

You see as the scruffy cat of a poor and disinherited individual, Puss in Boots had to find a new saucer of milk and he did it by reinventing his "master". He set out to get the King on his side. (This he accomplished by regularly taking the king some gifts) Once he was satisfied that the ruler knew the name of his reinvented "master" the Marquis of Carabas, he set out to execute his cunning plan.

My personal dilemma starts at this point. Is reinventing, rebranding, relaunching not sometimes calling the same BS by a different name? And then the obvious. At what point does a gift become a bribe? But let's not digress…

Puss in Boots instructed his "master" to follow blindly the instruction, that he, the cat kitted with boots, would relay at the appropriate time … and my nagging thoughts? Surely this could be interpreted as a lack of transparency?

So, one sunny day, once having established that the King and his daughter would be travelling on a particular road, Puss in Boots had his "marquis" swim in the nick! At that exact moment the King's carriage rolled by, and the once scruffy, but now spiffy cat, called out "help, help, my master the Marquis of Carabas is drowning!"

Very, very clever marketing and targeting of an audience me thinks or maybe, simply deceitful? … but continue we do …

Mindful of his gifts, and curious about the mysterious marquis, the King orders the necessary rescue and the relationship between, king and "marquis", princess and ex scruffy cat enters a new dimension.

The story continues as Puss in Boots was not quite done with his plan … the road to the ultimate castle was still long and there were many people whom he still needed to influence and prepare. Thus he remained humble and walked the road that the other three were yet to travel in the relative comfort of their carriage. As he walked, he continued to spread misinformation …

The finely shod feline tells all the workers in the fields that he is a powerful magician and that they must inform the king that the fields belong to the Marquis of Carabas. This the workers do, as a talking cat could well have scary magical powers and these answers soon enough, came to the king himself who was obviously and suitably impressed.

Finally the cunning cat arrived at the castle on the road, well actually it is THE CASTLE, because this is the geographical positioning of the ending! THE CASTLE belongs to a nasty ogre, who definitely has magical powers. He can transform himself into any creature whatsoever. Now it's right here at this point that I personally believe that either a brilliant piece of negotiation plays out OR the most horrendous underhanded and unethical conclusion is reached …

I am leaning strongly to the latter.

Puss-in-Boots suggests to the ogre that being able to change form is really cool - obviously ogre agrees and cat allows ogre to change into a lion. Latter roars ferociously, said cat gets really scared (only piece of honest behaviour I have observed I think) but luckily the ogre calms and returns to his normal ogrerish state!!

Then the cunning plan culminates when the cat suggests that it is easy for a BIG ogre to turn into a BIG lion, but can a BIG ogre turn into a small mouse? Story ends as cat pounces on mouse … err, or is that ogre? … and The Marquis of Carabas, no longer the poor son of a miller, ends up married to the king's daughter and subsequently becomes the benevolent ruler of the kingdom. At this point privvy to the cat's ways.

The questions I am left with are numerous:

Was the cats plan clever or was this simply exploitation? Is Puss-in-Boots the most revered con artist in history? Ultimately the tyrant is replaced with a benevolent ruler and the people now prosper, or do they? And is it right to do wrong in the pursuit of good? Would you personally, have left your future to Puss-in-Boots and once it became clear to you that his ways were slightly (or totally) underhanded, at what point would you have called the cat to order? Where in the story did "faking it" start leaving that sour milk taste? Where does the marquis' accountability and responsibility begin and end?

If I take a look at the current state of affairs in our world economy, it is clear to me that our roads have been littered with Puss-in-Boots type behaviour, with the able assistance of many a marquis. I sincerely hope that we can find the answers to these really tough questions as I do not think that I am errant in my ways when suggesting that very few of us feel as if we are living the ultimate fairy tale …That Darn CAT!

© Debbie Engelbrecht
28 February 2009

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