Hugo paints Cambronne as the victor because he cursed in the face of death as he died. He compares Cambronne’s curse to the the Marseillaise – the stubborn rally song of the French Revolution.
“To fulminate such a word at the thunderbolt which kills you is victory.”
First, I don’t see a “divine wind” or courage in his act. Going down with the ship has to be for the right reason to be virtuous. Bonnie and Clyde weren’t heroes just because they went out in a blaze. It’s not about how you die anyway. It’s about how you live. Sure, giving your life for a just cause can be a virtuous act, but that makes all of the other soldiers, just as virtuous if their cause was just – irrespective of how long they lasted.
Second, I see these reasons for defiance of the circumstances even upon death: (1) fear, as if to admit the existence, let alone triumph, of an adverse circumstance is defeat itself, (2) pride, as if to say “I am better than you still, and you cannot make me do it,” (3) love, to stand in loyalty against evil because of love for God or others who might benefit from one’s suffering, (4) pure evil, which has drastically reduced perceived value of human lives (others as well as self), or (5) existentialism of Victor Frankel to make ones own reality through the power of being able to choose an attitude.
Finally, besides beligerance, other responses to an adverse circumstance would be:
- Resignation and adaptation.
- Looking past the setback to a Higher Order Purpose.
- Spend more energy on trying to overcome.
So I suppose Cambronne’s response might be a path worth choosing, and probably it was more about the emotional heat of the moment than any philosophical position. However, I see in myself a deficiency in stamina for the adverse circumstance such that I might use some philosophical reinforcements.