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Written by Timothy Sexton
"the face of this world"
Camus asserts that what made Sisyphus decide to break his bargain with Pluto to return to the underworld after being given permission to go back to the earthly domain long enough to test his wife’s love was seeing “the face of this world.” The metaphorical meaning of this phrase is quickly made clear as it is followed by a listing of the things which Sisyphus saw which made him want to say: water and warmth. The metaphor thus gives an illustration of what the underworld might be like through the association of what it lacks.
Just in case it is not clear how a man deprived of such might view the sun and its warmth and light as face of the world, another metaphor is utilized to give an explicit impression of the underworld. It is a place of not just darkness, but infernal darkness. The darkness of evil and hellish lack of light.
“Sisyphus is the absurd hero”
Interestingly, Camus makes use a figurative language to plain assert the literal premise of his essay. Sisyphus is hero for the 20th century philosophical conception of the life as inherent absurd.
“the hour of consciousness”
Literally, the hour of consciousness is the time period after the rock Sisyphus has struggled to push uphill inevitably fulfills its fate and rolls right back down to its starting place and Sisyphus makes his back down to start the process again. The hour of consciousness is for Camus the moment when Sisyphus recognizes the absurdity of his fate and rather than deny, reject or fight against it, wearily accepts. This consciousness of the absurdity of toiling for eternity with the full knowledge he will never succeed and thus make that walk back down the hill without any hope of ever succeeding is the moment when he becomes the absurd hero.
“proletarian of the gods”
A metaphorical title awarded Sisyphus by Camus in order to make endow his entire premise with symbolic meaning which can be applied to the real world. Camus compares the struggle to push the rock up a hill to situation of the underclass. These people—the proletariat of the real world—are described as both filled with a desire to rebel against their fate while at the same time powerless against those controlling and manipulating both that spirit of rebellion and lack of power.
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