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Stoic Ideas in Film “Castaway” by Robert Zemeckis Essay

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2021


Similarly to any other form of art, movies have a goal of portraying life from the various perspectives and introducing new ideas or viewpoints to their viewers. Castaway is a film that displays a man on an abandoned island who continues living and does not lose hope for returning home. In many ways, the plot corresponds with the concepts of stoicism, which is a philosophic approach that emphasizes virtue and acceptance of circumstances. This paper aims to examine Castaway and its connection to stoicism, whether it invites to consider this philosophy, if the creators critique stoicism, and whether there is a connection between modern American life and stoicism.


Prior to examining the movie Castaway, it is necessary to determine the particular aspects of stoicism that characterize this philosophy. According to Becker, one of the primary stoic doctrines is as follows – “the only thing good in itself is a virtue” (30). Additionally, the author argues that this quality cannot be reviewed by using degrees. Thus, a person either has virtue or does not have one, although stoics do recognize that there is a journey one has to go through to acquire this view of the world (Becker 30). Additionally, the overall thought behind this approach is the acceptance of everything that life presents to a person.

The Portrayal of Stoicism in Castaway

In most cases, various cinematic works have the purpose of delivering an important message that the screenwriter and director consider necessary. According to Staley, films “project important insights, often unintentional, into the way the world works and the values society cares about” (10). Therefore, one should not merely view movies from the perspective of entertainment, but also review them through the aspect of a society in which a work is created. Thus, the movie Castaway should also be examined from the perspective of modern American life, which will provide an understanding of the acceptance of stoic philosophy by society.

In the movie Castaway by director Robert Zemeckis, the main character Chuck Noland faces severe challenges due to the crash of his plane. The circumstances in which the character has to live are staggering because there is no way out of the deserted island. The plot showcases how Noland adapts to his new living conditions and accepts his new role as the only person on the uninhabited island. These events can be considered a portrayal of stoic ideas because as was previously mentioned, this model of beliefs emphasis virtue and

In the scene where Noland talks about his life on an island with Helen Hunt, the character shows appreciation for the little things that most people have access to daily, such as ice. The movie encourages its viewers to look at their life from a different perspective, which corresponds with the stoic philosophy. Although there are extreme difficulties in Nolan’s life, he talks about moving on and continuing living despite that.

This provides an understanding of the middle course between modern life in America and stoicism because in most cases people in the country are in a constant rush and cannot appreciate the small things they have. Moreover, the stress and difficulties that individuals encounter at work or in other places in most cases are insignificant when compared to the four years that Noland spent on an island. He returns somewhat optimistic and grateful for his life, which encourages people to view their life journey from a stoic perspective.

Additionally, the fact that Noland was able to rescue himself from the deserted island can be considered a stoic view of circumstances. Although he was in a difficult situation, without a chance for a rescue he continued to peruse with attempts to build a raft that would enable Noland to escape the island. In a way, this detail is a criticism of stoic ideas because the character did not merely accept his situation. Instead, he continued to fight. However, considering the scenes discussed above, it can be argued that this movie both emphasizes the importance of accepting some stoic approaches and criticizes particular components of the philosophy.

Finally, at the end of this film, Noland delivers the package with angel wings on it to the address. This can be considered a representation of stoic virtue, which is the primary component of this philosophic model. Even though Noland spenst over four years on an island and was able to return home he travels to the destination of this package. It is evident that he is not obliged to do it in any way, yet the character chooses this action. This provides an understanding of the fact that this movie illustrates some elements of stoicism, but also encourages viewers to take up its ideas and use this philosophy in their lives. It is because the film is an illustration of an excellent approach to viewing the challenges presented by one’s life.


Overall, the movie Castaway portrays a problematic life journey of Chuck Noland. Despite this, he continues to fight for his life by accepting these circumstances and the possibility of never being found, which corresponds to the Stoic views. Upon his return home, the viewers a see a contrast between American life and stoic philosophy through Noland’s appreciation of simple things although the fact that he returned home provides some criticism to these ideas.

Works Cited

Becker, Lawrence. A New Stoicism: Revised Addition. Princeton University Press, 2017.

Castaway. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, performance by Tom Hanks, Twenty Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2002.

Staley, Samuel. Contemporary Film and Economics: Lights! Camera! Econ! Routledge, 2018.

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1. IvyPanda. "Stoic Ideas in Film "Castaway" by Robert Zemeckis." June 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stoic-ideas-in-film-castaway-by-robert-zemeckis/.


IvyPanda. "Stoic Ideas in Film "Castaway" by Robert Zemeckis." June 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stoic-ideas-in-film-castaway-by-robert-zemeckis/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Stoic Ideas in Film "Castaway" by Robert Zemeckis." June 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stoic-ideas-in-film-castaway-by-robert-zemeckis/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Stoic Ideas in Film "Castaway" by Robert Zemeckis'. 10 June.

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