Existentialism Essay

By nature human beings are forced to endure the trials of both the internal and the external world - Existentialism Essay introduction. An individual must battle with his or her conscience on a daily basis, and through both thoughts and actions he or she must continually strive for success in an absurd world. Every person must face choices every day of his or her life, but every individual places priorities in his or her own order. This sequence in which a person places his or her prerogative, with regards for the lives of others, determines the nobility of that individual.

In The Guest by Albert Camus and To Build A Fire by Jack London, the nobility of the characters Daru (the noblest), the man (the second noblest), and Balducci (the poorest noble) are evident by the manner in which each man prioritizes his life. This is evident by examining to what extent he takes others into consideration before himself. The character of Daru in the story The Guest, reveals an unselfish and fair disposition when he faces the delegation of turning the incarcerated Arab into prison.

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Daru s attitude reflects an existentialist tone when he encounters Balducci s orders for Daru to take the Arab to the prison, and Daru responds by stating, That s not my job. This statement that Daru makes shows his tact, honesty, and assertiveness. Daru is confident in himself, so therefore he sees every man equally and is not intimidated by higher authorities. His courage in saying no to the orders he is given by a higher authority exibits his nobility because he is willing to suffer the consequences of doing what he believes is right.

Also, when the Arab is left under Daru s supervision, Daru removes the Arab s handcuffs and treats him like a guest. This exemplifies true nobility because he is willing to humble himself enough to share his home, food, and company with a person who is deemed as an outcast of society. When the time comes for Daru to accompany the Arab to prison, he makes a wise decision by allowing the Arab the choice to either embark by himself on the journey to the prison in the east or to travel west on his own towards freedom.

Daru s willingness to submit the situation out of his own control, reveals nobility because he is risking being punished for not obeying authorities so that one man (Arab) will have the chance to choose his own fate. Daru is the noblest of the three characters because he places the lives of others before his own on his priority list. In the story To Build a Fire, the man is traveling alone in the freezing cold snow, and he responds ignorantly when a man from Sulphur Creek advises him to take precautions before travelling in severely cold weather.

The man from Sulphur Creek admonishes the travelling man not to travel alone in the snow because it is very treacherous. Even though the adventurous man knows in the back of his mind that the advice is useful, he laughs and persists on with his journey to camp alone. In a way the fearless character of the man does show some nobility because he is willing to break a logical rule of nature and face its hazards in solicitude. He is doing what the average person would never conceive of doing, and in a slight way that earns him a fair amount of noble recognition.

In opposition to nobility, the man also puts his pride as first on his priority list because he is reluctant to heed the advise of the wise man from Sulphur Creek. The man allows pride to blind him in making a conscience decision whether or not to travel alone, and his unwillingness to humble himself leads to his death. The other character in the story The Guest who has the name Balducci, is almost completely opposite of the noble Daru.

Balducci enters the story on a journey to Daru s house in order to give Daru the orders to turn the imprisoned Arab into custody. When Daru gazes out his window to see who is coming up his hill, he observes Balducci holding on the end of his rope an Arab. This symbolically reveals that the Arab controls Balducci because the Arab bounds Balducci to his duty and orders from the higher authorities. Balducci is submissive to his duty to take part in making sure that the Arab reaches prison.

Even though Balducci knows that the crime that the Arab previously commits has nothing to do with himself or Daru, he still does not act upon his own conscience, but he allows the higher authorities to make him do something that he believes is wrong. Balducci reveals that he is selfishly thinking of his own future when he asserts, What a chore! How I long for retirement. The fate of the Arab is not as significant to Balducci as his own egotistical desires.

Therefore, in taking Balducci s character into consideration, it is evident that he places himself and his future on the top of his priority list, and as a result others such as the Arab must suffer. Balducci s character is absent of nobility. A person of nobility possesses the qualities of humbleness, desires to put others before himself, and is not hesitant to act upon what he believes. Daru portrays a model character of nobility because he acts upon what he believes and says no to the orders given to him commanding him to escort the Arab to prison.

He also humbles himself enough to submit his control over the Arab, and he does what he believes is right and lets the Arab choose his own consequences. The character of the man in To Build a Fire exemplifies a person who is contradictory. In one light the man is noble because he courageously ventures out to overcome the forces of nature in order to reach his destination. Also in a contrasting way, he is prideful because he allows his pride to restrict him from heeding the man from Sulphur Creek s cautions about the perils of traveling alone.

Lastly, Balducci is an example of a character who is completely opposite of a man of nobility (Daru). He is selfish and desires only to fulfill his future plans according to his benefit, and he is reluctant to make a sacrifice in order to prevent himself from doing what he knows is not his job. (Aiding in taking the Arab to prison). A person of nobility must be willing to put others at the top of his or her priority-list because an individual s priority determines his or her actions, and a person s actions determine his or her nobility.

Existentialism Essay

Ever wonder why we have the term “free will” or where it originated? - Existentialism Essay introduction?? People believe that an individual can discover themselves as a person and choose how to live by the decisions they make; well this is where the word existentialism comes into play. Existentialism has been around since the early nineteenth century with Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophical and theological writings which, in the twentieth century, would be recognized as existentialism.

The term was first coined by Gabriel Marcel, the French philosopher and later adopted by Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche and other philosophers for whom human existence were key philosophical topics; but Kierkegaard is known as the “Father of Existentialism”. Existentialism proposes that man is full of anxiety and despair with no meaning in his life, simply existing, until he made a decisive choice about the future. That is the way to achieve dignity as a human being. Existentialists felt that adopting a social or political cause was one way of giving purpose to life.

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Since then, existentialism has been used by writers such as Hamlet, Voltaire, Henry David Thoreau, in Buddha’s teachings, and more. Throughout the years, existentialism has been viewed from various lenses to express different ideas, emotions, as well as to expand the thought process of readers, movie go’ers, and theater lovers everywhere and has been excessively used in Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five, Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, and in the movie Inception. Existentialism is a concept that became popular during the Second World War in France, and just after it.

French playwrights have often used the stage to express their views about anything going on in the world. There were “hidden meanings” that were common throughout the period so that plays would be able to pass without being banned or censored. One who wrote best-selling novels, plays and widely read journalism as well as theoretical texts during this period was Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre had been imprisoned in Germany in 1940 but managed to escape and become one of the leaders of the Existential movement in France.

Sartre dealt with existentialist themes in his 1938 novel Nausea and the short stories in his 1939 collection The Wall, and had published his treatise on existentialism, Being and Nothingness in 1943, but it was in the two years following the liberation of Paris from the German occupying forces that he and his close associate became internationally famous as the leading figures of a movement known as existentialism. A major theme throughout his writings was freedom and responsibility.

One other extremely popular writer and playwright during the same time as Sartre, as well as a close friend, was Albert Camus. In a short amount of time, Camus and Sartre became the leading public intellectuals of post-war France achieving, by the end of 1945, “a fame that reached across all audiences. ” (Existential Primer: Albert Camus) Camus rejected the existentialist label and considered his works to be concerned with facing the absurd. In the Titular book, Camus uses the analogy of the Greek myth of Sisyphus to demonstrate the futility of existence.

In the myth, Sisyphus is condemned for eternity by the gods to roll a rock up a hill; when he reaches the summit, the rock will roll to the bottom again. Camus believes that this existence is pointless yet Sisyphus ultimately finds meaning and purpose in his task, simply by continually applying himself to it. For Camus, this related heavily to everyday life, and he saw Sisyphus an “absurd” hero, with a pointless existence. Camus felt that it was necessary to wonder what the meaning of life was and that the human being longed for some sense of clarity in the world, since “if the world were clear, art would not exist.

” (Existential Primer: Albert Camus) “The Myth of Sisyphus” became a prototype for existentialism in the theatre and eventually inspired Beckett to write Waiting for Godot. In Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, existentialism manifests itself in a few ways; the frustration of trying to understand the meaning in life, the continued repetition seen throughout the play, and the inability to act. What remains archetypal in Waiting for Godot, concerning the absurdist metaphor is the way in which each character relies on the other for comfort, support, and most of all, meaning.

Vladimir and Estragon desperately need one another in order to avoid living a lonely and meaningless life. The two together functions as a metaphor for survival, like the characters that proceed and follow them, they feel compelled to leave one another, but at the same time compelled to stay together. They consider parting, but, in the end, never actually part. Andrew Kennedy explains these rituals of parting saying, “each is like a rehearsed ceremony, acted out to lessen the distance between time present and the ending of the relationship, which is both dreaded and desired”(57).

Therefore, Vladimir and Estragon’s inability to leave each other is just another example of the uncertainty and frustration they feel as they wait for an explanation of their existence. One of the most prevalent themes in Waiting for Godot is Estragon and Vladimir’s inability to act. When Estragon says “Let’s go”, Vladimir says “We can’t… We’re waiting for Godot” (page 7). They are not even sure that Godot will come, or that they are waiting at the right place. Even if he doesn’t come, they plan to wait indefinitely. Even if he doesn’t come, they plan to wait indefinitely.

After witnessing Pozzo’s cruelty to Lucky, Vladimir and Estragon are outraged. Yet they are still unable to do anything to improve Lucky’s situation. Pozzo lets Estragon and Vladimir know that they do not have control over their immediate future or even their distant future. When talking about the mysterious twilight, Estragon and Vladimir relate to waiting for Godot. So long as they know what to expect, waiting is their only course of action. Since Estragon and Vladimir can never make a decisive choice about what they want to do or about their future, their life seems to have no meaning.

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