A British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli has stated “Circumstances are beyond the control of man, but his conduct is in his own power. ” This quote is valid as Disraeli teaches us that we should concern ourselves with how we should react to situations and events we encounter, even though we can’t predict the future. Ultimately, this is all we are in control of and responsible for. I concur with this quote, as we can’t control what happens, but we have the power to make decisions for ourselves. The Stranger by Albert Camus and The Crucible by Arthur Miller are two great pieces of literature that strongly reflect this quote.
The protagonists in both stories are presented with several options to choose from, yet the outcome is out of their control. In the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, the protagonist, Meursault, is presented with many decisions yet many of the consequences are unfavorable and beyond his control. Meursault is a passive man who decides to befriend Raymond, a pimp who is well known in his neighborhood. Raymond has control over which friends he chooses to befriend. Out of all people, he chooses Raymond, who has led Meursault to his demise. Meursault knows Raymond is not a benevolent person, yet he continues to befriend him.
Later on in the novel, Meursault is face to face with one of Raymond’s enemies. Meursault meets him for the first time and assassinates the stranger with a firearm, shooting the victim 5 times. If it was self defense, one shot is probably enough to knock the attacker unconscious. Meursault has the power to fire his pistol once, but instead he fires 4 more times. Finally, Meursault is presented with the consequences. Meursault has been arrested and tried in court. He has never wanted this to happen as circumstances are beyond the control of man. Almost a year after the incident, Meursault has been executed via the guillotine.
The protagonist could’ve lived a perfectly normal life without any felonies, yet he made immoral decisions within his control and ended up as a prisoner, than executed. Another literary work that strongly reflects this quote is The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The protagonist of this play is John Proctor, a well respected man in the the Puritan society. One of the main antagonists is Abigail Williams, an attractive and young female who cares only for her own selfish desires. In the Puritan society, religion controls everything and the puritans believed heavily in Christianity.
John Proctor has a made a decision to commit adultery with Abigail Williams. He had the power to deny intercourse with Abigail Williams, but he did it anyway. As a result, Abigail has developed emotions towards John Proctor. Abigail wants to marry John Proctor, yet he already has a wife. To overcome this obstacle, Abigail devises a plan to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor’s wife. She decides to exploit religion and calls Elizabeth a witch. Witches are despised of by the Puritan religion, and they will suffer no less than the death penalty if they don’t concede and repent.
Abigail chooses to commit this act of selfishness in her control. As a result, Elizabeth has been tried in the Salem Witch Trials. The corrupt judges, thirsting for blood and death, and finds Elizabeth to be guilty. John Proctor, who still loves his wife, stands up to the judges. He could’ve been able to keep his reputation and his wife if he didn’t commit adultery. He concedes that he has committed adultery with Abigail Williams, and he knows she is trying to get rid of Elizabeth so she could become his wife. The corrupted judges believes Abigail and claims that John Proctor is also a witch.
In conclusion, John Proctor does not admit that he is a witch and is hanged, all of which is beyond his control as well as Abigail’s. All of this can be avoided if it weren’t for John’s lust, and Abigail’s selfish desires. Both Meursault and John Proctor were presented with decisions they had to make. They were in complete control, but the consequences were unexpected. The 2 pieces of literature presented strongly supports the famous quote “Circumstances are beyond the control of man, but his conduct is in his own power. ” Although the future is unknown, the decisions we make are in our control.