Hermits in Literature: Khalil Gibran’s “The Tempest”

Khalil Gibran’s short story, “The Tempest,” tells the tale of a young man who quits society to live as a hermit. The narrator is eager to engage the man in conversation, to learn his motives, his vision of the world. After contriving a few false starts, the narrator finds himself in the countryside during a tempest, and the weather draws him to seek shelter in the house of the very hermit who perplexed and challenged him. There is no particular action in the story, but the ensuing conversation is a polished articulation of Gibran’s image of eremitism. The story is a long series of wonderful sayings. Here is one representative quote:

I departed the world and sought solitude because I became tired of rendering courtesy to those multitudes who believe that humility is a sort of weakness, and mercy a kind of cowardice, and snobbery a form of strength.