I have been working on revising this post for some time since I have a more defined structure for my Moral of The Story posts now. While the middle section has largely not changed I have added in what I consider the most important piece, how the Moral applies to real life. I didn’t want to remove the old version in order to preserve the comments so I created this new post for the revised version. Let me know how you think the moral applies to life or what lesson you learned from BioShock Infinite. Enjoy!
The Moral of the Story
The moral of BioShock Infinite can be summed up with the saying, “A tiger cannot change its stripes.” The phrase states a person cannot change their true nature, and by the end of the game that message comes across clearly. Outward appearances and actions can hide what lies beneath, but a person’s true nature remains the same.
The Story and the Moral:
As we examine the story for evidence of the moral of the story, it is best to look at the antagonist and protagonist, Zachary Comstock and Booker DeWitt respectively. Zachary is a man touched by “divine” vision who founded the floating city of Columbia. The society addresses him as “Prophet,” and a strong religious, often fanatical, atmosphere defines the city’s perception of the man.
Initially Columbia is presented as a utopian city, but as the story progresses the threads of corruption permeating the society began to reveal themselves. Minorities are outcast and discriminated against while dissenters are quickly silenced. Comstock promotes a society of perfection and happiness, but his methods and actions shape a much different social order. As the violence of his hidden past is steadily revealed his brutal actions began to make sense, we begin to get a glimpse of who Comstock really is.
The protagonist of BioShock Infinite, Booker Dewitt, has a hidden past as well. Booker is a private investigator hired by two mysterious characters to find and rescue a girl in the flying city of Columbia. As he progresses through his quest and begins to explore the city we get a glimpse of the surprisingly violent nature hiding within the caring, handsome facade. It’s not initially noticeable, but when the game is viewed as a whole, Booker’s responses to the world around him are more violent and brutal than expected. This foreshadows Booker’s true nature, which is revealed at the end of the game.
While looking at Booker and Comstock, it is important to note that while they both had seemingly good intentions,their actions did not allow them to accomplish their goals. Their true selves showed through their actions, slowly erasing the mask both have created to hide their true persons underneath, slowly proving to us that the tiger cannot change its stripes.
Life and the Moral:
Humans are very complicated beings. Our thoughts and actions do not always line up exactly. Whether this is to meet social expectations, to fit in with a certain group, to impress someone, etc. we have all at some point acted against our true natures. This certainly is not a bad thing, as it speaks to our adaptability as a species. It does however make it extremely difficult at times to know an individual’s true nature as we cannot see what is underneath the many layers of a person’s identity. If we cannot know someone’s true nature how will we know if a person has or has not changed? In terms of the idiom, we cannot say with certainty whether or not a tiger has changed its stripes when we do not know if it was actually a tiger.
While sometimes it is impossible to decipher the true nature of other people, we can begin to know ourselves better. The moral inspires us to ask the question, “Do I like the person the world perceives me to be?” It does not matter how our outward personality aligns to our true natures because no one but ourselves is able to know. At the end of the day we decide the kind of person we want to be. We decide if we want to change but we must realize the world will only see the changes to our outward personality. No one will know that we have changed our true nature. On the other hand, no one will know if our true nature remains the same and we are merely adapting our outer personality to fit our needs. Instinctively we may say no, to not be aligned to our true nature is wrong. Ultimately, our opinions on it do not matter because in reality we can never know for sure. Remember we only see what is on the outside and will never know exactly what lies underneath. Perhaps we should turn our thoughts away from others. Maybe we should stop trying to comprehend other people and start discovering ourselves.