Critical Essays On The Stranger By Albert Camus

As he waits for death in prison, Meursault turns inwards for morality and develops an informed pathos, not about his own death, but about the absurdity of the life that surrounds him.

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Like Camus’s, Meursault’s father died before he was old enough to remember him and, like Camus, Meursault attended college.

Characters often comment on Meursault’s intelligence, and Raymond engages him to compose a letter of great emotional importance.

The Outsider (1942) (previously translated from the French, L’Étranger, as The Stranger) is Albert Camus’s most widely known work, and expounds his early understanding of Absurdism, as well as a variety of other philosophical concepts.

I discussed the novel on a superficial level in my recent review, and this will provide an overview of the work and its significance to those who are unfamiliar with it.

I will also discuss the writing and symbolism, and how they relate to the higher concepts discussed.

Meursault Meursault lives a quiet life of routine, content with his simple office job and uncomplicated way of living.

Whilst the reader may view Meursault as emotionally-stunted, there is little evidence that the other characters view him in this way, in fact they treat him as a fully-rounded human being, whose company and companionship is to be sought.

However, whilst some characters form relationships with him, they are all one-sided, with Meursault indifferent to their friendship.

Indeed, this indifference is Meursault’s second defining characteristic; he feels no grief for his dead mother, has no romantic or career aspirations, and makes no moral judgement of others. In maintaining the highest levels of honesty, Meursault embodies many of the ideals that society is so keen to promote but, just as Kierkegaard exploded the aesthetic sphere of existence from within, Camus demonstrates the impossibility of living a life of principled sincerity, of honesty without compromise.

Meursault is shunned by society for upholding their ideals to an extent that they themselves cannot; there is complete congruence between his emotions, thoughts, and acts, which is unpalatable to those who fall short of these standards.


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