“Man’s Search for Meaning”

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Viktor Frankl argues in his book “Man’s search for meaning” that we all have a fundamental moral choice whether to create personal meaning in our lives or simply to accept what fate brings. Everyman, the main Character in Roth’s book experiences a number of medical problems in his life especially the last years of his life. This part is therefore going to discuss Everyman’s response to the fundamental moral choice of Frankl. In his book, Frankl shares his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. He shows the reader how prisoners who had lost hope in the future will be subject to physical and mental decay. Just like the prisoners, Everyman has had rough experiences in life, he has gone through surgery after surgery, divorce after divorce, and his sons can’t find it in their hearts to forgive him. He is therefore a man who has lost hope in life. By the end of the story.

Everyman is just alone, all but good deeds have left him, and there he must confront his grave with religious humility. In life Everyman only finds devotion to his forgiving daughter, he holds on to the fantasy of parental reconciliation until his death. He knows from the grave that there is no going back, something that he has told his daughter over and again. “That there is no remaking reality”, he says, and his daughter repeats them over his coffin, “Just take it as it comes. Hold your ground and take it as it comes. There is no other way.” (Adams 2006). Frankl in his book “Man’s search for meaning echoes everyman’s words, he believes that the meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves but that we discover it as something that confronts existence. He believes that even the most evil persons are self determining. Like in the case of Everyman, he was evil in the eyes of his two sons, but the way took that depended on himself, he couldn’t force them to forgive him, he had to accept things the way they were so as to go on with his life (Frankl, 1980).

Everyman existed in a culture where he was obsessed with pleasure, in this case sexual pleasure and pain avoidance; he was what we can call an incurable sufferer who had had years of carotid artery surgery and angioplasts and stents. Eluding death had become the central business in his life. He ha had little opportunity to appreciate his suffering and to consider it ennobling rather than degrading. But in the end, in the grave, he bravely accepts that it was an unavoidable situation, he acknowledges that things must be taken as they come, that there is no other way. This is what Frankl calls on all humans to do, whether to create a personal meaning in our lives or to simply accept what fate brings.

Everyman accepted what fate chose his life to be, to die weak, divorced, denounced by his sons only left with his good deeds. He had no powers over all these and therefore he took them as they came.

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Roth Philip’s Book “Everyman”
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