Existential Anxiety Via Self Preservation

1826 Words Dec 13th, 2016 8 Pages
Ashley Martinez

Professor Steven Adisasmito-Smith

Modern World Literature

12 December 2016

Existential Anxiety via Self-Preservation

“To a man utterly without a sense of belonging, mere life is all that matters. It is the only reality in an eternity of nothingness, and he clings to it with shameless despair.” ― Eric Hoffer

In its most basic definition, an existential crisis occurs when a person feels out of

touch with their place in the world. They question why they are here as well as what

determines their leaving. In Leo Tolstoy’s Hadji Murat and Wole Soyinka’s Death and

the King’s Horseman, two characters experience a similar reaction after failing to

conform to societal expectations. For example, in Hadji Murat, the titular character’s

shifting allegiance depends on whatever is in the best interest of his family. He initially

rejects his community leader’s request for him to join the ghazavat—or holy war—

against the Russians (Tolstoy 335-464). After this refusal, Hadji Murat pledges his

allegiance to the latter—whether he can actually be trusted or not is an entirely differently

matter (Tolstoy 335-464). In Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, we have

Elesin Oba, a character who fails to follow his king in death because he still wishes to

remain in the realm of the living (1049-1078). However, based on existential theory, their

existential crises manifest themselves in four different ways.
That being said, a closer…
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