Critical Essays Stoicism


Hudson, like Abel in the two final chapters of Green Mansions, accepted at last the consequences of life stoically, but he never faltered, again like his hero, in his anguished memories of a merciless and irrational life force. Hudson's stoicism also derives from his reluctant and melancholy abandonment of Christianity for the philosophical replies to his questions. There is certainly no arrogance or defiance in Hudson's retreat from Christian solutions. Abel's mood in Georgetown, already sketched briefly in the prologue by the British official, is not only stoical but also characterized by acceptance of Christian humanitarian principles. Thus, Abel makes no mention of salvation or any theological issues, such as heaven and hell; he lives humbly with his bitter sorrow at Rima's death. In fact, the only god he has recognized was Rima, and it is thereby logical that Abel calls her "divine" in the closing lines of Green Mansions. Pain is always a source of woe for Hudson, and he can never accept either the Christian doctrine that it leads to an eternal reward or Darwin's view that pain, if brief, is not so crushing a burden. Hudson, although he stresses that the memory of pain cannot be eradicated, is convincing in his insistence that humanity must survive, and he praises the panacea of pain as conducive to formation of the will.

Hence, Abel is a combination of three philosophical experiences for Hudson: the early religious influence of Christianity, now salvaged for humane values; the impact of Darwin, leading to the realization about the cruelty and whimsicality of nature; and the stoical attitude, exemplified by a passive devotion to Rima. Perhaps this reconciliation of diverse philosophies is only a protection, erected by the puzzled author to serve his peace of mind. But Hudson, frank and honest, admitted this possibility and defended his ideas. The doubts and agonies take their toll as Abel must suffer mental torment until he dies, and no wholly optimistic, safe mode of thought assuages the pain.

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