The Stranger by Meursault
Essay topic: Throughout the novel The Stranger, Meursault undergoes a shift in his philosophical worldview and in his personal relationships. Is it the situation of his relationships that cause him to change his philosophy, or does the cause and effect work in the opposite direction? Please make your case for one position or the other, using three events, relationships, or symbols in the novel to support your answer.
In the book The Stranger, the author fails to explicitly refer to the notion of absurdity in the novel and it is obvious that there are tenets of absurdity that is operating in the novel. Meursault, the main character, possesses no rational order either in his world where he is living or the internal world that his attitudes and thoughts are living in. Indeed, Meursault does not have any discernable reason for the actions that he takes actions such as the resolution to get married to Marie or the choice to murder the Arab. The relationships that he gets into does a lot in altering the philosophy that he live for. Simultaneously, the society is effortlessly trying to come up with allegations, fabrications that are imposing rational explanations for Meursault’s illogical actions that cause him to change his philosophical views. The idea that things at times take place for no apparent reason and that the events in most cases do not have a meaningful meaning is unsettling and hostile to the society. This is seen when Meursault together with his lawyer give explanations that are baseless on the crimes that he committed basing in reason, logic as well as concept of cause and effect. The explanations that they give only serve as attempts to mollify the frightening idea that the universe is illogical and so is Meursault.
The absurdity philosophy that life has no redeeming and that the human life is the irrevocability of death is what Meursault moves towards all through the novel. Meursault is not in a position to fully grasp this concept until he gets into an argument with the chaplain towards the end of the novel. Meursault gets the perspective that he is so indifferent to the world and that he is only fair as the world is also so indifferent to him (Duran, 2013). He is not any different from the rest, he too was born and he will as well die just like the others that have died before him and then the universe will make him irrelevant. Ironically, after getting to this realization, Meursault comes to a realization that he too can attain happiness. He understands that he will eventual die and therefore gives little concern to the manner in which he will die, whether he gets to die naturally at old age or he is executed. This causes him to change his philosophical viewpoint and he finds the ability to do away with his absurd fantasies of being able to avoid execution when he opts to fill a successful legal appeal. Meursault is able to understand that the deceptive optimisms that he had filled his mind with will do him little if not making him have an untrue sense that death is not inevitable. This realization gives Meursault freedom from his false hopes and that he is now in a position to live his life without worry of what awaits him and that way he is able to achieve more from his last days.
Death is the other motif that alters Meursault’s relationships making him change his philosophical views. He fails to show much emotion in reply to the death of his mother despite the point that the community where he comes from expect that he is supposed to be hysterical with grief. He tends to trust that physical death only stands for the complete and the eventual end of life whereas the chaplain holds tight to the idea if life after death. The character of Meursault is about his attitude towards death and not until the end of the novel that he eventually embraces the idea that death is indeed inevitable to human life and them he is able to believe that the truth that he has a forthcoming execution and he does this with no despair anymore (Hayden, 2016; Hall, 2013). He gets to change how he associates with people around him and he gets to be livelier.
The other aspect is the watching and observation that is paramount in the novel as a number of characters spend their time watching Meursault or him watching a number of them. The constant watching in the novel implies the endlessness in humanity look for need and the stressing on the vitality of the tangible staff as well as the visible details of the physical universe where there is no striking meaning. Meursault observes individuals walking in the streets from the balcony of where he lives. There is passion in how he does this as well as absorbing details of what he is seeing but he hardly judges the things that he is seeing. Contrasting this, the individuals who are in the courtroom are watching Meursault in line with the judgment procedures and condemnation. It is at the courtroom that it comes out that the actions that he was engaging in were indeed being watched and he did not have knowledge at all. Since he had no knowledge he was being watched, he was able to live a life full of jovialness and liking and a social life as he never judged the things he would see not knowing that he was being watched and judged.
The life that Meursault lives is the kind that a detached and deathly honest individual lives, the kind of individual who never accepts to lie about what they do or who they are so as to save themselves. The situations that he gets into are what make Meursault change his philosophy. He gets to kill a man and he never attempts to defend himself even if he understands that that is what would save his life. He has moods that are undeniably excruciated by the authority that nature has. He lives a life that show the independence that he has, the kind of independence that does not allow him to accept that God indeed exists or that would let him subscribe to any of the antidotes to happiness that are offered by the society that he is always living. Meursault is not readily identified with mainly because of his jaded and lack of interest that makes the universe sort of view him as some type of a loser though he is not really one. Meursault does not see the difference in being married or not or whether there is a difference between one being in love and one being lustful. Owing to the numerous faults that he has, Meursault is definitely hardly understood. Rather than being sensitive, he gets so attached to the small details and he obdurately declines neither to trust that there is life after death nor to find God so as to escape from his forthcoming execution or whether he needs to guise the calmness that he has so that he gets to accept that there is death in (Baziz, 2013). Meursault is so cruel and gives other a hand to be cruel as well. The isolation that he gets himself in gets to end his life and the positivity in it is that he does not get dismayed or surprised when he gets to face death.
- Baziz, T. (2013). Analysis of the two existentialist works: Beckett’s waiting for Godot and Camus’s The Stranger in terms of philosophical impact on characters and themes (Doctoral dissertation, Ministry of Higher Education).
- Duran, J. (2013). Plath and the Philosophical Novel. Philosophy and Literature, 37(1), 228-238.
- Hall, C. (2013). Strangers in dreams: an empirical confirmation of the Oedipus complex2. The Experimental Study of Freudian Theories (Psychology Revivals).
- Hayden, P. (2016). Human Existence and the Tragic Beauty of the Absurd. In Camus and the Challenge of Political Thought: Between Despair and Hope (pp. 21-41). Palgrave Macmillan UK.