Looking for examples of stories with dueling morals

Here’s what I mean. I’m looking for stories – preferably literature, but I won’t complain about other media – in which at least two characters are clearly meant to learn a lesson by undergoing the events of the story; those characters do, in fact, learn such lessons; but the lessons each character learns is at odds with that learned by the other character.

I do NOT mean stories in which a single character fails to learn a given lesson, even if other characters learn the same lesson. In other words, the characters in the story must change as a results of the events of the plot, but in ways contradictory to one another.


I thought of one possible example, but it’s a spoiler for the current Game of Thrones series: Sansa and Jaime – Sansa has to learn that the world is not a kind place and that the vast majority of people who appear to be trustworthy and honorable are anything but. Jaime has long known the world is harsh and has long been cynical and trusted very few, and through meeting Brienne comes to learn that in fact there are people who are honorable and reliable in the world.

Someone more up on the show than I am can probably find a video of it, but I was particularly entertained by an episode of South Park where the character who declaims the story’s moral (to soupy background piano music) then reversed himself, regarding going along with the crowd vs. sticking to your own beliefs. TV sitcom moralism has been just that wishy-washy over the years, and I liked their exposure of that.

Dueling Morels? Sounds like an Iron Chef competition.


I’m not looking for parodies, though. I’m looking for examples of pairs (or trios, etc) of characters who go on a genuine journey of discovery in a story, share experiences, and come through changed in contradictory ways, without authorial intrusion to say that one path is the right one and the other wrong. South Park and its dark cousin Family Guy are pretty much the antithesis of what I was hoping for, as virtually nothing in those shows is meant to be taken seriously; the characters very deliberately don’t grow, and we’re not meant to have the least bit of sympathy for many of them. (Certainly no one on FG.)

Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors is a clear choice. Both the Martin Landau and Woody Allen characters learn lessons that are completely at odds.