Study Guide

Groundhog Day Morality and Ethics

Morality and Ethics

LOCAL MAN: No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences. There would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!

After he's lived the same day several times in a row, Phil asks some local men what they'd do if there was no tomorrow. They respond that they'd do whatever they wanted because there'd be no consequences.

PHIL: I don't know, Gus. Sometimes I think you just have to take the big chances.

Phil takes the local men's advice to heart and decides to drive like a crazy person all around Punxsutawney. His first moral reaction to living the same day over and over is to just act as selfishly as possible and to break every rule he can.

PHIL: I'm not gonna live by their rules anymore.

Phil's first reaction to reliving Groundhog Day is to break as many rules as he can. After all, what's the point of following the rules if there are absolutely no consequences?

PHIL: You make choices and live with them.

Phil talks about making choices and living with them. But the ironic thing is that he totally doesn't have to live with his choices because Groundhog Day keeps resetting every morning. In this case, Phil loses he only reason he has for acting morally. It's not until later in the movie that he learns to act morally for its own sake.

PHIL: Nancy. Lincoln. Walsh. Thanks very much.

Eventually, Phil realizes that he can learn enough about a pretty woman to trick her into sleeping with him. This is of course the kind of thing Phil wants to do with his newfound power to relive the same day. He needs to get all the immorality out of his system before he decides that morality is the way to go.

PHIL: On the contrary, Nancy. I love you.

Phil pulls no punches when it comes to acting immorally. He even lies to Nancy by telling her he loves her because he thinks doing so will get her into bed.

PHIL: It's hard down there at the bottom.

As the film enters its later stages, Phil takes a special interest in an old homeless man who always dies at the end of Groundhog Day. Phil learns a lot about compassion by trying to take care of this man.

PHIL: You little brat. You have never thanked me.

Phil Connors has saved the same kid falling fro a tree dozens (maybe hundreds) of times. But the kid has never once thanked him. Phil keeps saving him anyway though because he's learned that moral behavior is something you should do for its own sake.

OLD LADY: Thank you, young man.

PHIL: It's nothing. I had the tire and the jack.

Phil almost goes over the top with kindness when he starts running around Punxsutawney and trying to do as much good in a single day as he possibly can. But this is exactly the kind of mindset that helps him escape Groundhog Day.

PHIL: Enjoy your lunch.

MAN: Thank you.

One of Phil's biggest acts of kindness is saving a man's life by performing the Heimlich Maneuver. But it's still just one of the many acts of kindness he performs by the end of the movie. It looks like he has finally learned to be as kind to people as Rita has always been.

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