Life’s remorseless nature presents uncontrollable situations to everyone at the most unexpected times. Like any game of cards, life deals a set of cards that a player is forced to play. This is known as agency; the concept that each human individual within a culture has the ability to determine and choose by free will his or her actions. Some prime examples that shine this principle is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Albert Camus’, “The Guest”, Franz Kafka’s, “The Metamorphosis”, and Christof’s film, “The Truman show. ”
In each example, a third party advocate interferes and inhabits each protagonist into a controlled setting where the protagonists are confronted with a moral dilemma. In Frankl’s, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, the “dealer” inhabits Frankl in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Unlike the other protagonists, Frankl possesses a psychological background and uses his knowledge to a great advantage. Frankl is able to analyze his brutal experiences in the camps to provide somewhat of a guide for those who are having trouble finding meaning in their lives even in the harshest environments.
Like all the other protagonists Frankl is given a moral dilemma; whether he should dwell and suffer from electric fence syndrome or make something out of his experience and give inspiration to those who are in need. The central focus that Frankl was trying to reach to the readers was that no matter what type of suffering a person endures, as long as they hold onto their faith that everything happens for a reason, they can survive. By believing that everything happens for a reason, individuals are able to weather the storms of their lives with the strength and determination to overcome.
For Frankl, he was able to weather his journey by living by his word and believing that he had a future after his captivity. Camus’ story, “The Guest”, is about choices. Daru, the schoolmaster, is an isolated man, who lives in a schoolhouse on a high plateau and he remains alone because his students no longer attend class. He lives in the schoolhouse away from civilization which shows that he is isolated geographically and emotionally. One day, Balducci the officer, arrives with a prisoner and he forces Daru to take responsibility for him. The prisoner must be brought to the police headquarters in Tinguit.
Daru is surprised by the orders and tells Balducci that this task should not be done by a school teacher. He does not want to be involved with the political conflict, which is why the setting of the isolated schoolhouse is so symbolic. The setting of the story is important since it is during the Algerian war and Balducci tells the schoolteacher that he must follow the orders even if it is not his job, because during war times, everybody must participate. Daru is disgusted by the demands and tells him that he will not obey the orders given to him.
By refusing to follow the orders, Daru is making choices that most people would not usually take. People tend to obey authority and do what they are told. In this story, Daru examines man’s moral responsibilities and believes it is wrong to turn the prisoner over to the authorities, yet he realizes that going against the orders might also cause him troubles. So, he avoids making a decision by leaving the prisoner the responsibility for choosing his own way; to turn himself in or to take the path of freedom. No matter what he chooses, there will always be difficulties and acting in good fate will never save you, like existentialists believe.
In Franz Kafka’s short story, Metamorphosis, the idea of existentialism is brought out in a subtle, yet definite way. They do not believe in any sort of ultimate power and focus much of their attention on concepts such as dread and boredom. These bonds are not only evident in the work place, but at home too. Being constantly used and abused while in his human form, Gregor’s lifestyle becomes complicated once he becomes a giant insect and is deemed useless. Conflicts and confusion arise primarily between Gregor and his sister Grete, his parents, and his work. Each of these three relationships has different moral and ethical complications defining them.
However, it is important for one to keep in mind that Gregor’s metamorphosis has placed him into a position of opposition, and that he has minimal control over the events to take place. Conflicts will also occur between family members as they struggle with the decision of what to do with Gregor. In the end they all come to the agreement that maintaining his uselessness is slowly draining them and they must get rid of him, as he slowly descends with his self-worth, the family begins to realize that Gregor’s worthlessness catalyzed them to make something out of their lives and work.
In The Truman Show , there is irony present throughout the whole movie. During most of the film, Truman wanted to leave Seahaven and go explore the world. Once Truman learned that his life was a television show, he realized he would not be as unique if he left. He would not be the center of attention, and now wants to be just an ordinary person outside of Seahaven. Truman tried so desperately to live a conventional lifestyle, while his viewers wanted to be in their own utopian society. Although the show’s creator, Christof, tried to keep Truman in Seahaven, he ultimately could not.
Truman’s freewill and control of his own fate led him to discovering the truth about Seahaven, and thus controlling the outcome of his life. He accepted the reality of his life being centered around a television show, but moved on by leaving Seahaven. Although Truman’s artificial world came to an end, he entered reality as he left Seahaven. When Truman was isolated and put inside a society that revolved around him, Christof seemed to have given Truman only shadows of his own perception upon reality. When Truman turns to see what casts the shadows, he is then told that what they have formerly seen has no substance, and that what they now see (the carried objects) constitutes a greater reality.
When Truman sees the world outside the show he begins to question his previous beliefs. He has been cut off from the real world and was only shown one side. Truman was so naive and inexperienced that he can only believe everything Christof had described for him. It wasn’t until Truman saw what was happening that he could form his own opinion. This is where his moral dilemma comes in to play; does Truman stay in the utopian society and continue to live obliviously or does he fend for himself and live in the real world where he can perceive things in his own way?