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Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx

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Stoicism

Stoicism

Ennis Del Mar is a stoic figure, and stoicism is central to “Brokeback Mountain.” The ancient Greek school of stoic philosophy was founded on the principles of objectivity and detachment from emotional appeals, but that’s not necessarily characteristic of Ennis. Rather than ignoring or suppressing his emotions, Ennis feels them intensely. He acts on them too, leaving his family for days at a time to go on fishing trips with Jack or lashing out at Jack in anger and frustration. However, Ennis is stoic in his belief that “if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it,” a depressing bit of folk wisdom that is, nevertheless, often true. Ennis is engaged to Alma when he meets Jack, and his obligation to her weighs heavy on his mind. Later, after they are married, Jack visits Ennis and says they need to figure out what to do. Ennis responds: “I doubt there’s nothin now we can do.” Jack seems to believe the opposite and is punished for pushing for change, leaving Ennis the stoic to bear an even greater burden.

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