Study Guide

Artemis Fowl Morality (or Moral Ambiguity)

By Eoin Colfer

Morality (or Moral Ambiguity)

We're not talking about religious morals here for this theme—we're talking about the basic difference between good and bad actions, and the characters' ongoing struggle with their consciences. Artemis Fowl looks at all the confusing and complex parts of the question "Is this right?" and offers a profound "I have no idea." Because it is first and foremost a novel about a young criminal genius, however, the characters sway back and forth on moral questions and the unlikely decisions of the protagonists end up revealing a deep (if tiny) well of redeeming qualities.

Questions About Morality (or Moral Ambiguity)

  1. Is there a way to pin down exactly what Artemis's moral grounds are? We know he doesn't like whalers and probably has mixed feelings about the military, but he also doesn't care whether Butler shoots an unsuspecting fairy with a dart.
  2. Does the narrator bring a sense or morality to the book?
  3. Do we ever really get any solid idea of whether taking goldfrom the fairies is wrong, especially since the fairies aren't exactly saints themselves?
  4. Artemis has a number of people around him who act as moralguidance—is there a difference between, say, Butler's moral influence and his mother's?

Chew on This

We're not saying Artemis has the moral high ground a lot, but the fairies are all too quick to okay slaughtering all living things that aren't part of their magical world instead of just paying a ransom. Maybe they deserve to be beaten at their own game for once. 

Artemis's moral guidance comes mainly from parental figures (if you count Butler as a surrogate father, which we do), which is one of the few ways to tell he is still a child trying to find his place in his family's criminal legacy.

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