Albert Camus is a very hard man to figure out. He puts very complex thoughts and emotions into his writings, and you have to draw them out strategically. His thoughts of how everyday people live and think are genuine and you can see that in his writing. I am basing all my knowledge here on Camus’ book, The Stranger, and his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus.
Camus said in his essay on Sisyphus, “Sisyphus is an absurd hero.” Camus talks of how Sisyphus, a man punished to continually roll a rock up a mountain only to watch it come tumbling back down, is a perfect example of an absurd hero. He says that he is the absurd hero “as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.” This is saying that through Sisyphus’ recognition of his fate and his consciousness in knowing his own misery, he is able to overcome this fate and even find a little hope. This is why Camus states in his essay, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”Order now
Most people around the world have different definitions for a hero. To Albert Camus, I believe, a hero is a person who does well in mind and can overcome fate. I believe that Camus thought a hero to be a good person who is strong in faith and spirit. I’m sure he thought that a hero could outwit others and have knowledge on how people act. I even believe that Camus saw heroes to have a lot of the feelings as his character Meursault in The Stranger. I have the same feelings that a hero is one whom can do amazing things without letting emotions get in the way. The hero part of ‘absurd hero’ is not as important as the absurd part.
Albert Camus’ idea of absurd is an extraordinary view. He used the absurdity of Meursault and Sisyphus’ situations to exemplify why they were heroes. He said that they were absurd because their situations were out of the ordinary and would torture any human to insanity unless you were extremely strong of mind. This is what made these two characters heroes.
Absurdity is the condition of having no meaning to one’s life. Meursault fell in this category after being sentenced to the guillotine and Sisyphus fell into it when punished to ceaselessly roll the rock up the mountain. The absurdity in their situations would especially drive one crazy who thought fearfully or sadly upon their situations. The two characters though were drawn to hate their fates and torments which in turn won them victories over their fates by concentrating less on the punishment but more on just the acceptance of the absurdity.
Another factor that Camus used in showing Sisyphus as an absurd hero is the character’s failure to appeal to hope. Sisyphus would be giving in to his fate if he constantly thought about the Earth that he loved so much or the fact that he wouldn’t get to enjoy it ever again. Thinking of stuff like this would be a, “boundless grief that is too heavy to bear” says Camus in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. Instead, the ‘absurd hero’ accepts, in a way, his fate and realizes that it is what he did that put him there, yet he will roll the rock and concentrate on that. Absurdness affects a man in this way and it has to be accepted.
Camus gave Meursault a little different level of absurdity in his fate than Sisyphus. Sisyphus had a true and definite absurdness in the fact that he was punished to ceaselessly roll the rock with no end or purpose. Meursault, however, faced only a destiny that would end in a brief time when he would be executed. It would not be quite as hard to surmount his fate, knowing that he would die soon and not have to face any more consequences. Sisyphus, may in fact though, have more scorn to use to overcome his fate considering he actually loved life and he would face his punishment for eternity. Either way though, both characters could definitely be called ‘absurd heroes’ without even a shadow of a doubt.
Overall, it is fair to say that Camus did an especially good job of explaining why and how Sisyphus was an ‘absurd hero’. He showed through his writing powerful imaging and wonderfully explained how the character of the myth used mind over matter to defeat his destiny. Camus showed through explanations, how people should live and how there is, “No fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.” It is true that when faced by absurdity, which most humans are, you can only become a hero by feeling scorn or contempt and not being scared by having no purpose. In Camus’ eyes, you become a hero by understanding that their may not be a point to life, but that all you have to know is that you exist and be conscious of it. This in turn will make you an ‘absurd hero’ like Sisyphus or even Meursault.