The Myth of Sisyphus

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PURPOSE AND AUDIENCE 1. Camus makes evident his belief that human effort and values remain important in a meaningless world through his admiration of Sisyphus. Camus writes, “At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.” Camus acknowledges that Sisyphus is strong not because he can push an enormous boulder up a hill for eternity, but because he walks back down the hill to push it up again. He does not resign. His continued effort is what makes him a hero in a meaningless world. There is no point to pushing the rock up the hill, but he continues to do it because it’s important. Camus describes Sisyphus as a persevering, joyful prisoner and comments, “His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing.” 2. Sisyphus has been condemned by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a hill. The conflict ensues when Sisyphus reaches the top and the boulder falls down the hill. Sisyphus must walk back down the hill and push the boulder up again. Personally, I believe this is the worst punishment possible not because of the manual work, but because of the psychological effects it must undoubtedly have on him. After a couple of minutes doing something, you are bound to get tired and give up. But if you are destined to do the same thing for an eternity, your eyes are likely to glaze over and your actions will become slow mechanical things that will cause you to have hallucinations. This is the most dreadful punishment because your imagination will eventually run wild and drive you crazy. 3. Camus compares Sisyphus to a member of the working class by writing, “The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd [than Sisyphus’].” Just like the workingmen, Sisyphus is forced to do the same thing day after day. He does not

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