The Paradox Of Warre In Thomas Hobbes

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Seventeenth century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes proclaimed "during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre ; and such a warre as is of every man against every man." Hobbes refers to a powerless state, but twentieth century author Alexander Solzhenitsyn demonstrates “warre” to exist in the authoritarian regime of the Soviet Union in the 1950s in which citizens are powerless. Solzhenitsyn’s assertion that “a zek's worst enemy is another zek” parallels Hobbes' views of every man versus every man. However, paradoxically, camaraderie and companionship that are juxtaposed with brutality and social Darwinism are the very traits that enable zeks to survive the bleak…show more content…
Shukhov perceives real jail to be “when you were kept back from work”(7); externally, work provides zeks with warmth and the possibility of hot food. It rescues them from their illnesses and distracts them from thinking about their misfortunes. For Shukhov, work is a “relief”. Once he starts working, he forgets all about his aches and pains. Internally, work provides the opportunity to exhibit dignity, pride, and perfection while building the wall. Shukhov’s attention to detail and strong work ethic drives him to finish his task instead of laying down his tools as required to do so upon hearing the siren which signals the end of the…show more content…
While reflecting at the end of day, Shukhov perceives the day’s events optimistically, however, the concluding sentences highlight the author’s underlying pessimism of the Soviet system and specifically on the circumstances prevalent in the gulag. Shukhov’s humble, simplistic reflection that “it is almost a happy day”(139) is at odds with the dire conditions of the prison camp. He is thankful that he overcomes his fever, escapes the cells, builds a wall, and receives extra food. He has enough to smoke and is the recipient of Tsezar’s generosity. It does not take much to satisfy Shukhov. His dignity and resilience enable him to withstand the conflicts of the gulag and survive “one day at a time.” Solzhenitsyn is however disturbed at the thought that a life of drudgery is Shukhov’s fate over his three thousand, six hundred and fifty three-day sentence and leaves the reader horrified and shocked by the repressive conditions of the Soviet system under Joseph
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