Every mind has struggled with Existentialism. Its founders toiled to define it, philosophers strained to grasp it, teachers have a difficult time explaining it. Where do these Existentialists get the right to tell me that my one and only world is meaningless? How can a student believe that someone was sitting in jail and figured out that our existence precedes our essence? Existentialism places man in the center of his own universe; free to make his own choices and decide his purpose. Many of us are not ready for this. Fortunately, the world has come to trust its authors. You can’t just sit down and explain the Existentialist belief to a person - it must be put into the context of the human situation. Through stories and situations the ideas are defined - Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and theater of the absurd plays like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Eugene Ionesco’s Amedee - they spin you around on your chair so you are facing the real world, and then shove you right into the middle of it.
Existentialism especially turns our attention toward the meaningless, repetitive and dull existences we all must lead. Two works, The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus and Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett have exemplified these existential points in contrasting perspectives. In the essay The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus takes a look at the story of Sisyphus, a man that scorns the Gods, challenges their power, and causes a lot of trouble in his life and afterlife. As his punishment, "His whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing." He pushes and strains his entire body to move a boulder up a mountain slope, and when he reaches the top, it rolls back to the very bottom. Sisyphus must repeat this task for eternity. This is a lonely and painful experience. At first, Sisyphus must feel such agony and regret, but Camus believes...
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