In Albrecht Dürer’s famous engraving The Knight, Death, and the Devil, a knight, a figure of death, and the Devil represent three significant archetypes of human experience: success, the passing of time, and misfortune. Yet all arouse fear—even terror—and herald the inevitable tragedy of the near or distant future. The question is therefore how such an image of tragedy and misfortune can be the basis for a motivational text?
In Reading Albrecht Dürer’s The Knight, Death, and the Devil Ab Ovum: Life Understood as a Struggle, author William C. Auden provides a connection between these figures and the demands and expectations of modern-day society when it comes to being successful. It will help us better understand how the path to individual success requires values that serve both others and society itself. While there will always be pressure to gain success “at any cost,” a moral approach to personal success can be informed by benevolent social behavior, tolerance, and acceptance.
Although success in business or in life can be a struggle, understanding the ways success, misfortune, and inevitability work together to provide us with motivation can help us find a balance between modern social needs and the social pressure to achieve success—for both ourselves and for our society as a whole.