Philosophy and Theology

William Ernest Henley's prolonged exposure to hospital life was bound to have a dramatic effect on his philosophical and theological views. Henley never subscribed to any organized religious belief at any point in his life, however. At the very least he sensed a power that controlled and manipulated the universe. While in the hospital he realized that it was only through his own inner power that he was able to overcome his overwhelmingly despairing circumstances. Henley developed a philosophy that the individual must lead an active life and never regret dreams that may have been turned into reality. The closest that Henley ever came to admitting to a greater power was in "Invictus" "I thank whatever gods there be." Though it mentions the possibility of gods, the poem lacks any hint of faith. The speaker is agnostic and very well may be an atheist. And so, Invictus serves as a testament to Henley's own personal philosophy, as it demonstrates the individual's own inner strength and indomitable free will as being his/her only resource for survival.
Click Here to go back to the overview.