This quote, by Anton Chekhov, seems obvious and easy to relate to. However, it perfectly describes the concept of existentialism, which is neither obvious nor relatable. Existentialism is “a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe” (“Existentialism”). Existentialism is a difficult philosophy to grasp, but by exploring examples in literature and art, one can come to a better understanding of its basic tenets.
The first tenet of existentialism is individualism and alienation, which is revealed in the works The Metamorphosis, “A Hunger Artist,” and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Each person is an individual; essentially, no two people experience a situation the same because no two people are the same. Due to this, existentialists tend to feel very alone and isolated. Existentialists do not believe in the concept of “society.” The sense of pure individualism alienates them. Professor Gordon E. Bigelow describes the existential view of isolation, “Man lives in alienation from God, from nature, from other men, from his own true self.” One can see this alienation in The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, awakens one morning and discovers that he has been transformed into a bug.
Gregor Samsa feels that he has been treated as a lowly insect and comes to feel that he is one; the story makes the leap from ‘I feel like an insect’ to ‘I am an insect.’ Whatever the causes for Gregor feeling this way, these causes have led to his isolation and alienation (the feeling of being ...
... middle of paper ...
...and the Language Arts. St. Paul, Minnesota: EMCParadigm, 2000. 47-50. Print.
Jardine, Dan. "The Shawshank Redemption." Starpulse. All Movie Guide, 2008. Web. 6 April 2012.
Kafka, Franz. “A Hunger Artist.” Webmaster, 2007. Print.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print.
"Kafka's Metamorphosis." 123HelpMe.com. Web. 5 April 2012.
Lispector, Clarice. "The Fifth Story" 1986. Literature and the Language Arts. St. Paul, Minnesota: EMCParadigm, 2000. 475-77. Print.
Munch, Edvard. The Scream. 1893. Painting. The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.
Ross, Ph.D., Kelley L. "Existentialism." The Proceedings of the Friesian School. 2011. Web. 6 April 2012.
"The Scream, Edvard Munch." Art History & Periods, Artist Biographies, Art Galleries, & Art Schools. Art History Guide. Web. 7 April 2012.
Waiting for Godot. Dir. Michael Lindsay-Hogg. PBS, 2003. VHS.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Existentialism is just one of the many philosophies that attempt to determine the meaning of life. This idea that the world is meaningless developed in Europe around the time of World War II. Many writers and authors in the forties and fifties were affected by the horrors of war and this new philosophy, namely, Albert Camus. Existentialism is greatly reflected in Camus’ time period, culture, and works such as The Stranger. To truly understand how existentialism is reflected in Camus’ time and works, it must first be defined.... [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus]
1197 words (3.4 pages)
- Do we matter. Do we seek personal happiness in life. These are questions from existentialism. The dictionary defines existentialism as an individual’s experience filled with isolation in a hostile universe where a human being attempts to find true self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Hamlet is an existentialist character who believes that he is forced to avenge his father’s death and the hatred builds in his heart because of the many betrayals which direct him towards a senseless life and constant thoughts about suicide; this ultimately leads to his demise and he is left with naught.... [tags: Existentialism]
872 words (2.5 pages)
- The Epic of Gilgamesh is incorrectly considered to be the very first existentialist story. Centering around the titular king Gilgamesh, the epic follows his journey from being a self-obsessed tyrant to a great ruler, through the realization and acceptance of his own mortality. Scholars such as Micah Sadigh tote The Epic as a fundamentally existential text because of the lessons it teaches about responsibility and actions. However, using Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents and interpretations of what existentialism is, The Epic cannot be viewed as an existential story, but rather a cautionary tale about society overpowering human aggression.... [tags: Existentialism, Epic of Gilgamesh]
1264 words (3.6 pages)
- The ideas of life and death are often questioned and it’s hard to find a way to explain what happens, but the theory of Existentialism and the practice of Absurd Theatre take a look at these ponderings. Existentialism is a philosophical idea that was focused on trying to find life’s purpose and while answering the questions about death and meaning to life that was explored by Tom Stoppard, in his absurd play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Existentialism is a philosophy centered on the analysis of why humans exist and what their purpose is to life through trying to look at things such as the ideas of death and the meaning of life (Existentialism 1).... [tags: Meaning of life, Existentialism]
1258 words (3.6 pages)
- The universe we inhabit is by all accounts an atypical one; a few people manage its foolishness by encompassing themselves with faith, while others disregard all its significance. Existentialism, nonetheless, ushers us down a remarkable course that darkens these perspectives toward one of a kind belief structure. Despite the fact that we can experience circumstances that are out of our control, we do have the ability to control how we manage said circumstances and regardless of whether we decide to create significance from them.... [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre]
1120 words (3.2 pages)
- The universe we inhabit seems to be an atypical one; some individuals deal with its foolishness by surrounding themselves with faith, while others neglect all its significance. Existentialism, however, ushers us down a unique course that obscures these views toward one unique belief structure. Even though we can encounter circumstances that are out of our control, we do have the ability to control how we deal with said circumstances and whether or not we choose to develop importance from them. The hunt for our true meaning is primitive and so are the answers that have maintained it throughout history.... [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre]
1106 words (3.2 pages)
- Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were key figures in the philosophy of existentialism. Existentialism is defined as the philosophical theory that highlights individual existence, choice and freedom. It is the idea that human beings determine their own meaning in life, and venture to make rational decisions in spite of living in an illogical and unreasonable universe. Essentially, this principle calls into question human existence and the notion that individuals do not have a purpose in life.... [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Philosophy]
1590 words (4.5 pages)
- The Connection between Existentialism and Meursault An existentialist represents their choices throughs their actions, opposed to with their words (Corbett). Therefore, someone who expresses the ideals of existentialism may be a threat to society because of their differences in morality compared to others. In The Stranger, by Albert Camus, Meursault was always looking to find meaning in his life because of everything that was happening to him at the time; and that is a key characteristic of someone embracing the ideals of existentialism.... [tags: Existentialism, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre]
1096 words (3.1 pages)
- Existentialism, as defined by Luke Mastin, “...is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice.”(2008). There are multiple occasions in which an individual can encounter an existentialist situation without acknowledging it. For example, choosing to go to school one day or not would be considered freedom of choice, which connects with the philosophy of existentialism. In the context of existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard’s theory correlates to the movie, Before I Fall directed and adapted by Ry Russo-Young from the novel written by Lauren Oliver, due to the many movie scenes that involve an existentialist moment as exemplified through the main character in relation to K... [tags: Existentialism, Philosophy, Søren Kierkegaard]
859 words (2.5 pages)
- Existentialism 'Existence precedes essence'. These are the few words that many people live by. These words describe a philosophy called Existentialism. The philosophical term, Existentialism, came from Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher. Jean Paul Sartre wrote 'No Exit', where he portrayed his philosophy negatively. On the other hand, Albert Camus, who wrote The Stranger, portrayed Existentialism positively through his characters. Each author uses the characteristics of Existentialism positively or negatively to define their own story as well as their characters as true Existentialists or not Existentialism has been described as a philosophical movement especially of the 20th cent... [tags: Philosophy Sartre Existentialist Essays]
1272 words (3.6 pages)