Are Meursault in Camus' The Outsider and Antigone in Anouilh's Antigone both victims of society and also free agents who choose their own fate?
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Are Meursault in Camus' The Outsider and Antigone in Anouilh's Antigone both victims of society and also free agents who choose their own fate? Both Meursault and Antigone are the protagonists in their stories. They have much in common, such as the fact that they explain their impending deaths as decided by fate, even though each seems to have an easy way of surviving. Both are willing to die for what they believe is right. The concept of fate is quite different between the texts. In Antigone, a Chorus tells you at the beginning of the play that Antigone will die. Antigone uses the excuse of fate to explain her own death to Creon, where as in The Outsider fate is much more subtle. First I will look at The Outsider and Meursault. Albert Camus wrote this novel as a challenge against the death penalty and the society that imposes it. It reflects his existential philosophy including how we do not trust people that are different, that society would rather hear lies then the truth if the truth makes them uncomfortable, and that people with different views to the majority are persecuted.
This shows that Meursault was a free agent who made the mistake of having the wrong friends. Possibly the most important passage in the novel is when Meursault kills the Arab on the beach. He took Raymond's gun from him to prevent him from murdering the Arab in an argument, when he went for a walk later with the gun in his pocket he met the Arab again. During his walk he describes the pain and discomfort the sun causes him "The heat was pushing full against me as I tried to walk". He finds the Arab in the only shade on the beach, which draws him closer, the descriptions of the heat and light are very painful "All I could feel were the cymbals the sun was clashing against my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear still leaping up off the knife in front of me". The language used in this passage is very elaborate compared to the short sentences usually used, stressing the importance of this passage. To the readers, it seems as though the hot sun is the only reason Meursault has to kill the Arab.
After Antigone and Creon's argument, Creon is persuaded that Antigone is destined to die, and he tries to persuade Heamon of that. Creon says "Death was her purpose, whether she knew it or not". Heamon however is very stubborn and never accepts that Antigone is fated to die, that is why when Antigone's body is found Heamon kills himself while Creon does not cry or mourn over anyone he has lost. Whether or not death is Antigone's destiny is argued by all the individual characters, each arguing only for the side that benefits themselves. The Chorus argues for fate to justify it's existence, Creon argues for it to justify his decision to have Antigone executed, Heamon argues against it because he wants Antigone to live on. These two stories rely on inevitability to draw attention away from the storyline, and bring the focus onto the issues they raise. Camus wished to persuade people that the death penalty was unjust and wrong, while Anouilh wanted to encourage a sense of rebellion among the people of occupied France during World War 2. In The Outsider and in Antigone both of the main characters believe that they are destined to die, becoming martyrs for their author's causes.
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