Ernest Hemingway and the Art of Stoicism Essay

Ernest Hemingway and the Art of Stoicism Essay

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Stoicism is not just another Greek philosophy – it is a way of life. Common belief characterizes a Stoic as lacking emotion. Stoic reasoning behind a lack of emotion, or indifference, is to prevent passion from blinding rational judgment. Indifference is not the sole identifier of a Stoic; other characteristics include moderation and virtue. Stoicism teaches that happiness can only be obtained through virtue. To achieve indifference and virtue, certain sacrifices need to be made, which is where moderation comes into play. For example, hatred and love are opposing emotions. Because Stoicism calls for indifference, a Stoic must be moderate and avoid both extremities. Despite having been conceived nearly two thousand years ago, the principles of Stoicism remain relevant even now. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and “Indian Camp” relate to Stoicism because the two pieces echo the Stoic ideas of moderation, indifference, and virtue.
Moderation is fully evident in Hemingway’s characters. Santiago, the protagonist of The Old Man and the Sea, firmly balances two contrasting qualities - his humility and pride. Santiago reveals his humble nature when Manolin asserts that he is the best fisherman to which Santiago replies “No. I know others better.” (The Old Man and the Sea 23). Meanwhile Santiago’s attempt to capture the fish and prove that he is a capable man despite his old age signifies that he retains a certain level of pride for his masculinity. Humility is the antithesis of pride, yet, the old man has the ability to retain both through moderation. Emotions are not the only characteristics to be moderated; actions as well as speech must be balanced. In “Indian Camp”, the father explains a mature topic –the act of givin...


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...ams’s operation. Through two different characters, Hemingway iterates the importance of virtue, reflecting the value of virtue in Stoicism.
Throughout The Old Man and the Sea and “Indian Camp”, Hemingway utilizes Stoicism to portray his characters. Santiago’s discipline and Dr. Adam’s careful diction are an example of moderation in motion. The two’s indifference is bewildering, but enable calm rational operation in demanding situations, exactly why apathy is crucial in Stoicism. Finally, Dr. Adam’s complete disregard for acting humanely contrasting with the old man’s stickler for virtue affirms the significance virtue bears in gaining happiness. The Stoic ideas of moderation, virtue, and indifference are demonstrated in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and “Indian Camp”. Hemingway’s use of Stoicism in his literature embellishes his lauded minimalistic style.

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