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Existentialism and the Absurd In Camus “The Stranger” Essay

The novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus,consists of a first person narrator, Meursault. Meursault, the main character, acquires an absurd philosophy on the essence of life. His mindset is that life is not only insignificant, it is unavoidable. Meursault’s’ life consists of futile bonds, nonchalant behavior, and living an existence of mere tangible exercises throughout the story. In this novel, human life appears to have no meaning in the grand spectrum of the universe. Meursault gives an example of this ideology when he comes in contact with the chaplain who talks about life after death.

Meursault, who has a strong disagreement with the idea of Christianity, reveals to the chaplain his outlook on the meaninglessness of life. Meursault’s journey through his daily monotonous life finds himself unable to connect with humanity and only able to focus on the concrete tangibility. The first sentence of the book states, “Today, mama died. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know”(Camus 1). Meursault’s careless response to his mother’s death conveys a sense of resignation or carelessness. This idea is supported by his lack of ambition to derive personal relationships with the people around him.

Meursault’s only pleasure in the story are the warmth of the sun, a touch from his fiancee, Marie, and the taste of his cigarette. Meursault gets his pleasures from tangible objects. Camus shows Meursault’s philosophy in life is the importance of the reality and the events that are taking place at that moment. The protagonist, Meursault, focuses only on the physical aspects in life. When he obtains a lover, she tries to show Meursault the meaning of love, and the intelligence of being in a relationship.

But Meursault does not give any thought to these feelings between he and Marie, nor does he, in any personal relationships. The only thing that matters is “the sense of immediacy that lies at the foundation of his philosophy”(Moser 1). Raymond Sintes, Meursault’s neighbor, invites Meursault over to his place to write a simple letter regarding his mistress. Meursault agrees to go, but only if there is something in it for him. The only reason Meursault is performing these courteous tasks for a friend, is that he only does the deeds for the free food, booze, and cigarettes that are supplied to him.

Meursault epitomizes the insignificant and conceited being whom society invariably ignores,”The absent meaning in the natural world, and mankind’s inherent desire to seek out meaning will always go unfulfilled in a life without illusions”(Moser 2). Meursault’s relationship with Marie also revolves around the tangible features of it. While spending six months of time behind bars, Meursault never emotionally, once thought about being apart from Marie, his only thought when getting out of the place was to wait patiently for a “spell of love-making with Marie”(Camus 95).

Another example of the monotone life of Meursault occurs when he tells the judge that he killed the Arab “because of the sun. ” He had shown no remorse for this crime and only to blame it on the beaming sun, while being scorched by hot blasts of wind from the sea that blind Meursault by the sweat dripping in his eyes for murdering the Arab, ”Meursault’s experiences with the natural world draw out elements of Camus’s philosophy of the absurd”(Moser 2). Meursault’s name itself has been associated with the environment that affects him so strongly throughout the end of the novel.

“This meaning with man and nature, like all such meetings, ends in a meaningless act”(Moser 2). A third major component of Camus’s absurdist philosophy is the idea that human life has no meaning or purpose. Meursault argues that the only certain and concrete information in life is the inevitability of death, and, since all humans have that in common, all lives are evenly trivial. In the novel, Meursault gradually realizes that he does not fully grasp the idea until he meets with the chaplain and blows up blurting out how nothing matters, and nothing that the chaplain believes is as certain as the chaplain thinks.

Like all people, Meursault has been born, will eventually die, and will have no further importance beyond. When he fully comes to terms with the inevitability of death, he understands that it does not matter whether he dies of old age or executed. He realizes that these illusory hopes of escaping execution would do more than create in him a deceiving sense that death is avoidable. Meursault sees that this hope for a maintained life has been a burden. His emancipation from this false hope means that he is free to live life, and to make the most of his remaining days, just like his mother.

In the realist novel, The Stranger, contains powerful fullness of the idea of existentialism and absurdist philosophy. Camus affirms that “the only order in a disordered world is the one we create for ourselves”(Moser 2). Though Camus does not refer to this notion or absurdity, the beliefs are performed throughout the novel. Meursault lives, day-by-day, a monotone life lacking any rational order in the world with his thoughts and actions. This novel represents Albert Camus’s idea of himself and the grand spectrum of the universe, Presenting aspects of a meaningless life and illogical philosophies of other human beings.

The connection between man and Meursault is very simple since it does not revolve around emotion and worthwhile bonds, as he only focuses on the tangible and inevitable aspects of life. Works Cited Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993. Print. Moser, Patrick J. “An overview of The Stranger, in Exploring Novels, Gale. ” (1998). Rpt. in Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. SCHERR,ARTHUR. “Camus’s THE STRANGER. ” The Explicator 59. 3 (2001): 149. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2013.


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