Introduction to Stoicism in “Arrival”

“Arrival,” the 2016 science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve, delves deeply into themes of communication, time, and the human condition. Amid these themes, Stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy that emphasizes rationality and acceptance of fate, is subtly yet profoundly woven into the narrative, particularly through the character of Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams.

The Foundations of Stoicism

Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means to overcome destructive emotions. The philosophy suggests that understanding the nature of the universe and one’s place within it can lead to a harmonious life. In “Arrival,” these principles are mirrored in Louise’s journey and the film’s broader message.

Rationality and Composure in Crisis

From the beginning, Louise exhibits a calm and composed demeanor, even when faced with extraordinary circumstances. When twelve alien spacecraft land around the globe, causing global panic and uncertainty, Louise remains focused and rational. Her background as a linguist enables her to approach the situation with analytical precision rather than succumbing to fear or hysteria. This rational approach is emblematic of Stoic principles, which prioritize reason over emotion.

As the narrative unfolds, Louise’s interactions with the aliens, known as Heptapods, and her efforts to understand their language highlight another key aspect of Stoicism: the acceptance of the unknown. Stoicism teaches that one should not fear the unknown but instead approach it with a sense of curiosity and openness. Louise embodies this as she tirelessly works to decode the Heptapods’ language, despite the immense pressure and the potential dangers involved. Her determination to understand, rather than to react impulsively, reflects the Stoic ideal of seeking knowledge and wisdom.

Amor Fati and Embracing Fate

A pivotal aspect of Stoicism is the concept of amor fati, or the love of fate. This idea suggests that one should embrace all aspects of life, including suffering and loss, as necessary parts of the whole. In “Arrival,” this theme is poignantly illustrated through the film’s exploration of time and Louise’s personal story. The Heptapods’ language introduces a non-linear perception of time, allowing Louise to see her future, including the birth and untimely death of her daughter, Hannah.

Choosing Acceptance Over Resistance

Despite knowing the pain and suffering that await her, Louise chooses to embrace these future events. This acceptance is a powerful representation of amor fati. Louise understands that the joys and sorrows of life are inseparable and that to reject the pain would be to reject the fullness of her experiences. Her decision to proceed with her life, fully aware of the impending heartache, epitomizes the Stoic acceptance of fate.

Control and Attitude Toward Fate

Moreover, Stoicism advocates for a focus on what one can control and the relinquishment of worry over what one cannot. Louise’s journey in “Arrival” is a testament to this principle. She cannot change the future she has foreseen, but she can control how she responds to it. Her choice to engage with life, love, and loss, despite the foreknowledge of tragedy, underscores the Stoic belief in the


Arrival is a movie of high morals, inspiring the audience to live life with good thoughts but one con would be it advocates everything, except thoughts, are pretty much set by fate. That idea takes power from the persons, making them feel like not willing to take accountability for the result, and therefore even less trying to change their life for what they want it to be. importance of one’s attitude toward events rather than the events themselve


In conclusion, “Arrival” subtly but effectively incorporates Stoic philosophy through its narrative and characters, particularly Dr. Louise Banks. Her rationality, acceptance of the unknown, and embrace of fate reflect core Stoic principles. The film suggests that understanding and accepting the nature of existence, much like Stoicism teaches, can lead to a profound and meaningful engagement with life. Through Louise’s journey, “Arrival” offers a cinematic exploration of Stoicism, demonstrating the power of reason, acceptance, and the love of fate in the face of life’s uncertainties and inevitable losses.

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