If the tragic hero Oedipus could assert in his conscious pain that "all is well", Camus's concept of 'Sisyphus Happy' must be accurate because, it is true that "there is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn" (121).
Camus enumerates the passions that define Sisyphus-"his scorn of the gods, his hatred of death and his passion for life." These have gained him the most unspeakable of penalties in which he has to strive with all his heart and might to accomplish nothing. But exerting oneself to accomplish nothing is a classic example of negation, and Sisyphus must have seen that adding the emotion of joy to his labors would be the best way of negating the gods-admittedly, one of his prime interests. Therefore, when Camus says that Sisyphus, the 'proletarian of the gods' is Sisyphus Happy-the statement is irrefutable. For Sisyphus was said to have been the wisest of mortals.
Camus reminds us that the fate of modern man in the modern workplace, working every day at the same tasks, is no less absurd than that of Sisyphus. Modern man then lives and works in true absurd fashion, but the birth of the tragic, the opportunity for heroism, the potential for authentic existence only becomes possible in those rare moments when he becomes aware of the absurdity. Sisyphus's strength, as well as his joy, rises out of his consciousness of his condition. Out of consciousness, out of awareness, out of lucidity springs Sisyphus's victory over the rock, over the gods, over the oppression of his situation.
The films of Charlie Chaplin depict beautifully the absurdity at the heart of much of human endeavor in 'modern times.' Chaplin shows that the modern absurd hero is the man who is aware of the absurdity of his condition. Such a man can overcome the oppressiveness of his life and work by means of the weapon of scorn. He does not hope to achieve happiness because of his work, or as a consequence of it. However, the weapon of scorn gives him the feeling of joy while engaged in the work. That joy is his way of achieving mastery over the work as well as over any who may have hoped that the work would frustrate his soul.
On the other hand, unmixed joy would not be the absurd hero's chosen cup of tea or bowl of vinegar. The emotion of joy cannot be divorced from the experience of pain and sorrow. Sisyphus's descent is therefore, sometimes done in sorrow. Camus believes that the sorrow was in the beginning, when memories of the earth plagued his soul. At times like these, the rock triumphs. But Sisyphus rarely allows himself such lugubriousness or such agonizing. Most of his effort is undertaken, in Camus's vision, in silent joy. This is because Sisyphus knows that "His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing" (123). It is his rock-not the rock of the gods, not the instrument devised by the gods to punish him-but something that defines him, that expresses the essence of his spirit, his existence, and his supreme scorn for pompous authority.
The Last Castle is a movie starring Robert Redford in the role of former general who has been sent to a prison under the control of an officious Chief Warden. The film highlights a penalty inflicted by the Warden on the imprisoned general for a minor offense. The punishment involved the single-handed lifting and transportation of a large heap