Albert Camus' The Myth Of Sisyphus

879 words - 4 pages

Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus

Albert Camus' essay, 'The Myth Of Sisyphus' is an insightful analysis of the classic work, 'The Myth Of Sisyphus'. In some regards Camus' view of Sisyphus can seem quite accurate and in tune with the original text, but based on Camus' interpretation of the justness of Sisyphus' punishment, it is clear that the writer has some different ideas as well. Camus concludes that this punishment does not have the effect the Gods had intended, and ultimately the tragic hero must be seen as being 'happy'. This is his greatest departure from the intent of the original myth wherein the reader is left with the feeling that Sisyphus' punishment can be seen as appropriate and just.

As his punishment for repeatedly outwitting the Gods, Sisyphus is forced to roll a great rock up a steep hill only to have it roll back down each time he reaches the top, forever condemned to repeat the process over and over again. It is this punishment that Camus is most focused on, as the topic of Sisyphus? trickery only comes up to give the reader some background on the story. It is unusual however that Camus considers this punishment as an, ?unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing?, and at the same time assumes that; ?The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man?s heart.? The gratification that one might find through hard work could certainly be seen as an accomplishment, but it?s hard to see how this pertains to Sisyphus. Camus states that, ?the workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks?, and that his fate is, ?no less absurd.? If a man whistles while performing his laborious job it is only because it is assumed that the fruits of his labors will be recognized and rewarded, if only with a paycheck. For Sisyphus there is no reward, and certainly no means to an end.

As the extent of Sisyphus? punishment is only described in the original story by a single sentence, Camus takes great pains in describing the psychological effects it has on Sisyphus, and the mental state he must be in to endure such an ordeal. In describing this, Camus focuses on the point at which Sisyphus makes his decent back to gather his great rock. It is at this point that Camus makes clear as to why he considers Sisyphus an ?absurd hero?. Assuming...

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