Views and the Attitudes Towards Violence and Revolution


            In the book “The Just Assassins by Albert Camus”, Stepan Fedorov is introduced in the play by Camus as a way of demonstrating the personal problems he had against the Communist Party. He plays the part of a revolutionary who had been in prison for three years before escaping to Switzerland. As a result of all this, Stepan becomes a very resentful man who is even unable to be grateful for the good aspects of life. He does not acknowledge freedom he is even quoted in the book saying, “Freedom is still a prison long as there is still anyone in chains on earth. When I was free, I could not stop thinking of Russia and all its slaves” (P. 4). He even frequently speaks about absurd acts that are mainly about arbitrary destruction like when he asks Dora, “Dora, would one bomb blow up this whole building?” (P. 10).

Stepan is so passionate about his acts of terrorism that most of the time he determinedly insists to be allowed to throw the bomb personally although the other members of his group take him to be unstable thus cannot allow him to do so. He is very violent and does not even care or show compassion for any form of life even little children as he says, “I don’t love life; I love justice, and that’s higher than life.” (P. 20). This is seen when his compatriot Kaliayev comes with an excuse of throwing a bomb at a carriage because it had the Grand Duke’s nephew and niece. Stepan is very furious about this citing the deaths of many Russian children as a result of Tsarist oppression by saying, “Because Yanek did not kill those two, millions of Russian children will die of starvation in the next few years.” (P. 40).

Still when Dora asks him if he could bomb a child, he states that, “When we decide to forget about children, that day we’ll be masters of the world and the revolution will triumph.” (P. 30). This shows his inhuman side because he is supportive of violence against children even without the support of his fellow revolutionaries who believe that killing children would destroy their cause. Stepan is said to be deeply involved with terrorism such that after Kaliayev’s execution, Dora, who used to Kaliayev’s lover vows to start acting like Stepan so as to avenge the death of her former lover therefore indicating how extreme Stepan was as a terrorist.

Stepan is very violent such that he is referred by Camus as the tenacious fighter in the book. Stepan is also termed as the representative of the tyrannical revolution because he believes that in the end, the final victory of the revolution justifies any means no matter the degree of violence. Even after Dora calls for the goals for which their revolutionary movement is working, Stepan is still persistent and he counters by stating, “violently: There are no limits.” (P. 50). His violence is also shown when it is stated that murder may pose no problem for him although it is the greatest problem for both Dora and Kaliayev because it cannot even be termed as an issue of moral legalism.

In the book “The Secret Agent”, The Professor is one of the close friends of Verloc, who is the main character in the book. Verloc works as a spy and together with his friends forms a group of revolutionaries who in spite of being inefficient as terrorists are well known by the police. Therefore, The Professor has one common character with Stepan in that he is a revolutionary. However, the two have a small difference in that Stepan is a pro in that field while The Professor is incompetent. The other common factor between the two is that they are both like although in different ways. The Professor is very fond of violence and this is shown by the idea of him carrying a bomb all the time. It can also be illustrated by the quote “Lost in the crowd… keeping his hand in the left pocket of his trousers…” (P. 51).

Despite of The Professor being very fond of violence and speaking about it a lot, there is not one time when he performed an act of violence. This is because in the book “The Secret Agent”, only Winnie Verloc the wife of Verloc was said to have executed a serious deed of violence against another person. This shows that The Professor had a different view of violence to that of Stepan who believed in complete violence that even included killing of innocent children and he supported it by saying, “It is better to kill for nothing sometimes than not to kill enough.” (P. 55). The Professor’s reason for being a revolutionary was the need for pride as compared to that of Stepan that was based on anger brought by mistreatments like the Tsarist oppression. Hence, the two had different reasons for causing violence.

The Professor was not a true revolutionary because for one, he was doing this to gain pride and he was inefficient as it is described in the novel. He was a complete opposite of Stepan who was a real pro and did this as a way of teaching the oppressors a lesson. He was also devoted to being a revolutionary and wanted everybody in it to be committed as we see when he tells Kaliayev, “I don’t like people who become revolutionaries because they’re bored.” (P. 15) Regardless of these differences, the two still had one more thing in common in that they mostly used explosives committing violence.

This is in spite the fact that The Professor was mostly the kind of person who made the explosives and supplied them to Verloc. Hence, he did not participate first hand on most occasions unlike Stepan who was always in the forefront when it came to throwing the explosives despite his fellow revolutionaries thinking he was unstable therefore denying him the pleasure of throwing the bombs. Stepan was a real admirer of bombs as quoted when he said, “Only bombs are revolutionary” (P. 6) and when he begged Annenkov to let him throw the bombs by saying, “I’m begging you. You know what this means to me.” (P. 13)

As opposed to The Professor who was very insecure when performing his work as a revolutionary because he was always wired with a detonator in case he was pressured by police capture, Stepan was fearless and confident when performing his violent acts. Consequently, The Professor had a different attitude towards violence compared to that one of Stepan. Although The Professor was mostly not involved directly in the violent situations like Stepan, he was considered as crazy as Stepan in the books. This is because just as Stepan was referred to as the as the tenacious fighter because of his believe in violence in the book “Just Assassins by Albert Camus”, so was The Professor who in the book “The Secret Agent” is referred to as the angel of destruction. This is an indication of how the two were seen as strong believer and followers of violence.

In the book “The Secret Agent”, it is seen that the professor acquired his attitude towards violence from his childhood. This is because he was brought up by a father who was a preacher of an incomprehensible but strict sect and was very confident in the benefits of his justness as quoted “a man supremely confident in the privileges of his righteousness” (P. 50). Therefore, once The Professor had gone to college replacing this Christian sect faith with science of colleges, the moral attitude created transformed into a Puritanism of purpose. He harbored all this as something that was secularly holy and opened his eyes to the true nature of the world whose morality was insincere as quoted “whose morality was artificial, corrupt and blasphemous” (P. 50).

The Professor hence was absolved in the world of violence and revolution due to his personal desires concealed into faith. This is how he turned to be a revolutionary after meeting his other friends. Camus is trying to express most of his feelings a part of the resistance through Stepan. This is because he introduces him into the play as a way of showing his problems with the Communist Party. Stepan has many reasons that have led to him becoming a revolutionary. First, the main reason is that he was held in prison for three years before he escaped tom Switzerland as he feels that he was not justified when he says, “I don’t need it. I was justified in one night, for always, three years ago, in prison. And I will not support…” (P. 25).

Hence, he is full of bitterness from being imprisoned and does not see the significance of life so he ends up being a revolutionary, a title that fits a person leading the kind of life he is living. His bitterness is increased by the sight of the whip marks on his body and its felt when he says, “These are the scars! The scars of their love!” (P. 70) Just like The Professor, Stepan also has some religious influence in him that is seen when he is heard saying, “He has a religious soul, though. That is what separates us two. I am more ruthless than he is, I know. For those of us who do not believe in God, total justice is necessary or we just despair.” (P. 60).

The author in the book, “The Secret Agent”, seems to support most of the ideas he has written in his book about revolutionary. This can be seen when he speaks about the bombing in Greenwich at the start of the book. It looks as if he is supporting the bombing by saying, and I quote, “For perverse unreason has its own logical processes.” (P. vii). He therefore seems to share the same perceptions with The Professor who by his own standards could have enjoyed bombing the scene himself. Hence, from this example it can be seen that the author seems to build The Professor from his character and perception towards anarchism and terrorism.

Generally, The Professor and Stepan share many qualities as revolutionaries. They have some similar views and attitudes towards violence and revolution as seen in the books, “The Secret Agent”, and,”The Just Assassins”, respectively. However, in spite both being crazy revolutionaries, they also have their own differences as concerning some other views and attitudes towards violence and revolution too as seen above. It can also be concluded that the two authors that is Albert Camus and Joseph Conrad built this characters out of their own views relating to the connection between violence and revolution.

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