The Irrationality of Existence Essay

The Irrationality of Existence Essay

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One of the most fascinating traits of humanity is the tendency to reflect and to create art on the basis of that reflection. In the days before writing, cave paintings and the oral tradition of storytelling demonstrated ways that people expressed their feelings – taking the time after winning, even if only briefly, the struggle against the demands of subsistence to leave a product behind, for posterity. Even the earliest recorded examples of literature, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, poignantly express the struggles that humanity faced when dealing with such abstractions like mortality and grief. The most recent bestseller books published last week may have cooler cover art and use figurative language more intricately than that ancient poem. But the anger and grief that Gilgamesh felt after a snake ate the plant of immortality was much greater and powerful. It was the plant he found after a long and bloody journey. Because of one careless moment when he stopped to take a quick dip in a pool, he lost it to the snake. The absurdity of life comes into high relief at this moment, and while the writings of Samuel Beckett, Joseph Heller and Sylvia Plath are just some of the many that express the same theme, none will be displayed more vividly than. Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Michael Seigneur de Montaigne’s Of Experience also mirror the irrationality of existence. These books suggest that what is important in life, and what gives life meaning is much more than what we are able to accumulate and acquire during our time on the planet; it is how we respond to what Hamlet would term the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Shakespeare).
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio was written in the 1350’s...

... middle of paper ... Throughout European history, such movements as the Age of Reason and the Romantic Era represented different schools of thought as the way to find happiness and contentment in life. Boccaccio, Shelley, and Montaigne are just three of the many writers who have taken on this idea as a theme. Ironically, there may be as many answers to the question of finding the significance of life as the number of people trying to answer it.

Works Cited
Boccaccio, Giovanni, and George H. MacWilliam. The Decameron. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Montaigne, Michel De. "Of Experience." Essays By Michel De Montaigne: 633-88. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Web. Retrieved 4 December 2011 from
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Joseph Pearce. Frankenstein. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2008. Print.

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