Existential Anxiety Via Self Preservation Essay

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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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