As explained by Albert Camus in his essay of The Myth of Sisyphus, the storyline centers around the idea that “the gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.” Camus goes on further to describe Sisyphus as “the wisest and most prudent of all mortals”, as he was able to steal the gods’ secrets.
According to another story, however, it was explained that Sisyphus was punished by being forced to take on the profession of a highwayman: one who would wait on a road for passersby so that he could hold rob them. Camus explained that he “saw no contradiction” between the two stories; they both centered on Sisyphus having to do the same thing over and over again to no avail.
It was described that Sisyphus, before he was punished by the gods, still carried the burden of their secrets. Therefore, he knew that “Egina, the daughter of Esopus, was carried off by Jupiter”, and that when Esopus came to Sisyphus for help, Sisyphus told him that he would only tell him of the abduction if he would bring water to the Corinth citadel.
Near death, Sisyphus decided that he would test his wife’s love in an unconventional way. He “ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square.” When Sisyphus woke, he found himself in the underworld, and his body where he told his wife to put it. He was so annoyed by his wife’s ‘inhuman obedience’ that obtained permission from Pluto to let him return to Earth so that he could castigate her, but, as according to Camus’ essay, “when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness.”
Mercury came from the heavens and forced Sisyphus back to the underworld, “where his rock was ready for him.” This was the starting point of Sisyphus’ new, endless ‘career’ that would never reach its climax.
Every time Sisyphus pushes that rock upward, only to have it fall back down to the underworld, is what had Camus interested. He claimed that if Sisyphus was still hopeful, if he still had that little thread of hope to hang on to, then the old myth’s lesson wouldn’t nearly be as strong as it is. He claims that during the moment where Sisyphus watches the rock fall back, he is even more powerful than the boulder itself.
Camus goes on to say that “if this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious.” And he goes even further to say that Sisyphus is just like the everyday worker of today. They lead their lives doing the same thing every day, but it never gets any better, or for that matter any worse. It just stays exactly the same, forever. In the end, their lives are “just as absurd” as Sisyphus’.
He then switches his sights from Sisyphus and the average workman to the rock that they must push up, only to see fall down, every single day of their lives. The rock is the embodiment of what is man’s melancholy and sorrow. For many, this burden is much too heavy to carry forever.
The author then remarks that “ancient wisdom confirms modern heroism.” Sisyphus’ absurd actions, by the time he discovers that the rock will never stay in place, lead him to be more of an unlikely hero than a villain.
Sisyphus, pushing that stone up the mountain every single day, is a stone himself. He pushes on, no matter how hard of a struggle it may become. In this instance, he has a power over all of the gods, all of the idols, as well as the rock itself. All working men and women who work hard every day without complaint also have such power over the deities. In fact, all men and women who think for themselves have a power over such things. Almost every living being controls the outcome of their lives with no one to thank but themselves.
Using the quote “I conclude that all is well”, Camus explains that nothing in this world can ever be exhausted, because it has already managed to drive out “a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering”. With that god gone, everyone’s fate is left up to themselves to pave out.
Near the very end of his analysis, Camus uses a blind man as one of his final inspirational examples. He says that the blind man, though wanting to see once more, knows for a fact that he will never be able to do such a thing. Yet, he keeps on moving and living his life despite his sadness. Therefore, “the rock is still rolling.”
Camus “leaves Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain,” because “one always finds one’s burden again.” Sisyphus is a great teacher who teaches the “high fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks.” Sisyphus, alongside the blind man, is yet another example of one who concludes that all is well, despite having to lead a life, or in his case an afterlife, with more than a little disappointment spread through it. Camus ends his analysis with the idea that Sisyphus must be happy with how things turned out.
The author is trying to convey upon his leaders that life goes on, no matter how dreadfully boring or depressing it may be, and that many follow the saying “never give up.” Through this essay and analysis of The Myth of Sisyphus, he is trying to bring a happy message to the table and does so successfully. His use of similes, comparing the rock to man’s sorrow and melancholy itself for example, is executed brilliantly, as is his use of metaphors. One such example of a wonderful metaphor was that ‘Sisyphus was a stone himself.’