The Wolf of Wall Street: Ethics, Greed and Corruption

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1325 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1325|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Ethical Problem in The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Kantianism and Business Ethics
  4. Corruption of Morality in The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited


Like Thomas Hobbes, many think that ethics and business do not relate to one another, since those pursuing business objections are only in it for their own self-interest. Greed and corruption have created a downfall for many businessmen. Greed is defined as a selfish desire to obtain self-gain such as power or wealth. In the film the “Wolf of Wall Street”, directed by Martin Scorsese and the protagonist Jordan Belfort, we can see that greed and corruption can blind and manipulate one’s worldly perception of materialism. The Wolf of Wall Street is about at a stock broker “Jordan Belfort”, who tries to make a living in the stock market. He soon later started up his own enterprise called, Stratford Oakmont. His company grew very quickly and he did this by scamming and influencing many by fabricating his selling strategies of penny and high-volatility stocks. As his company grows, so does his gluttony for power. He soon finds himself in a predicament when the FBI begins tracking his illegal cash flows. And so, he devises a plan to launder his money to foreign accounts and to hide the incrimination of himself and his co-workers. From history, we can see that “it’s all about power and wealth, if someone has it, someone else wants it” (M. Morrone, slide show, 2016). As a result, greed is the driving force that enables someone to create an ethical dilemma for themselves and others and this is evident within this film and in history. This paper will analyze themes such as exploitation, ethics and deception with historical references and their connection to the concept of greed and the film Wolf of Wall Street.

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Ethical Problem in The Wolf of Wall Street

An ethical problem can be defined as: “situations in which there is a choice to be made between two options, neither of which resolves the situation in an ethically acceptable fashion” (Yourdictionary, 2015, para. 2). In the Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort’s ethical dilemma has to do with his money laundering tactics and stock manipulations. Stratton Oakmont gathered hundreds of penny stocks and accumulated them in private accounts. Their salesmen would then work actively to make the prices of their stocks grow by calling people to purchase these particular securities. Belfort and his partners would then sell their personal shares after the stocks had been inflated, which made them a huge amount of revenue. After selling their personal stocks, the stock would then crash and those that invested inevitably faced a capital loss. This fraud was conducted hundreds of times during Stratton Oakmont’s reign. The primary motive behind Jordan Belfort’s actions was greed. Though he was confronted by many close relatives about his practices, he morally neglected the issue and didn’t take it seriously. In relation to greed, we can see in history that there are numerous occurrences of this. In third century Rome, we see that greed and the urge for power made the state corrupted. In order to finance the war, they took from their peasants and taxed them heavily. Moreover, generals fought for power and all this led to the economic, social and political decline of the Roman Empire. Like the Roman Empire, Jordan Belfort fought the federal government to “protect” his company, which ultimately led to his downfall. Jordan Belfort relates to the generals and superiors of the Roman Empire because instead of helping those that sought out financial return, he exploited them with deception, just like the Romans did to their peasants.

Kantianism and Business Ethics

Secondly, Kantianism founded by Immanuel Kant, who implied the notion that decisions should be based on goodwill and not unethical desires. He also states that business and ethics cannot co-exist with one another for they contradict, which is evident in the Wolf of Wall Street. In the beginning of the film, Jordan Belfort was explaining his key motivator and his favorite drug. The most addictive element that makes him strive to what he has obtained, is none other than the power of the dollar. Though he had enough to retire and to live a stable lavish lifestyle, he still chose to run his illegal investments scandal, even though he was aware of the consequences that would follow if he got caught. History unveils similar patterns of illegal practices and manipulation to generate personal wealth driven by greed and self-interest. Companies in the past, like Stratton Oakmont, Bernie Madoff Investments and even major banks goes against this theory. Instead of looking out for others and helping people invest their money wisely and systematically, they have either deceived their clients, or provided them with inaccurate financial investment vehicles. Not only did they engage in unethical practices, but they also manipulated their workers to follow through by using faulty investment strategies to become rich, like Jordan Belfort and his company. In addition, Aristotle once said, that “Business is not moral when pursued for the accumulation of wealth” and Jordan Belfort represents this statement undoubtedly. Not only did he act immorally in his personal life but he used his business to scam many to obtain a substantial amount of wealth, so much that he had to hide it in foreign accounts.

Corruption of Morality in The Wolf of Wall Street

Lastly, we can see that Jordan Belfort’s greed corrupted his morality of what trust and honesty is. The golden rule is a universal belief that all should follow, which is accepted by the vast majority. This golden rule states that we ought to treat others the way we would like to be treated. This rule is not followed by Jordan Belfort, in fact he does the total opposite. Instead of being honest and providing helpful financial advice to his clients, he manipulated them and stole their money with dishonesty and treachery. He should have ran an honest and trustworthy company that prides themselves on giving financial guidance on their investments and also assists them on how to gain a great return. His practices led to hundreds of honest people losing their money who may be saving for their retirement or their children’s education. His outlook during his corrupted reign mimics many viewpoints in history. During the rise of feudalism, we can see that the soldiers and clerks had duties to accomplish for economic independence and spiritual and physical protection. The peasants provided labour in order to uphold the soldiers and clerks duties. Instead, the peasants received little to no protection and spiritual guidance during the invasion of the Vikings. The peasants trusted those in power to provide those promises, instead the peasants were exploited and seen as valueless. This was mainly due to greed and the self-interest of the elites. The peasants were given false hope of trust and honesty, just like Stratton Oakmont clients which lead them to suffer economically and mentally.

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To conclude, there are many instances in The Wolf of Wall Street where greed is the central driving force to Jordan Belfort’s downfall. Jordan Belfort was blinded by gluttony which enabled him to become as rich as possible without any remorse to others financial predicaments. He was not satisfied with what he had and he wanted to become dominant and superior relative to others. Though he knew the consequences of committing stock manipulation and money laundering tactics, he still continued his practices and also tried to bribe a federal agent to continue his supremacy. His obsession of greed and power relates to many occurrences in history. In most cases, being greedy can make a society corrupted and sooner or later civilizations will revolt. Debtors have continuously outnumbered the amount of creditors since the beginning of business. Most creditors have always taken advantage of these borrowers by being falsified and partaking in fraudulent activities. In order to stay competitive and thrive in a business, a company needs to be ethical, honest, take accountability and be responsible for their actions.  

Works Cited

  1. Morrone, M. (Slide show, 2016). Lecture slides on historical references and greed.
  2. Yourdictionary. (2015). Ethical Problem. Retrieved from
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Cite this Essay

The Wolf of Wall Street: Ethics, Greed and Corruption. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
“The Wolf of Wall Street: Ethics, Greed and Corruption.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
The Wolf of Wall Street: Ethics, Greed and Corruption. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2023].
The Wolf of Wall Street: Ethics, Greed and Corruption [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from:
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