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Existentialism in The Stranger by Albert Camus

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Introduction

Stefan JBEnglish HL1/31/12 Is the Stranger considered Existentialist? The monotonous writing style of Albert Camus in his novel ?The Stranger? with an ever so dull protagonist called Meursault makes me question the purpose of the text. The lack of emotion and energy portrayed by Meursault compares to the philosophy of existentialism. Existentialism is a way of living that only believes in man?s physical existence and disregards any possibility of their being a ?higher? meaning in life. The fashion that Meursault?s interactions with society are portrayed makes this text existentialist to some degree. At the very opening lines of the novel, readers are sparked with curiosity towards the reason why Meursault was so sudden and impassionate about the passing of his mother. ?Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don?t know.? (1) ...read more.

Middle

?? and on top of that the bumpy ride, the smell of gasoline, and the glare of the sky and the road, that I dozed off.? (2) The next aspect of the novel that lead me to think it was an existentialist text was the fact that Meursault was living without a sense of time. He had no thoughts of the past and considerations for the future but rather experiencing life in present time. The climax of the novel highlights this aspect as Meursault senselessly murders the Arab with no thoughts of the consequences that would be faced for it. His thoughts do not comply with those of society?s who functions on rational behavior. ...read more.

Conclusion

The dispute with the priest after Meursault?s conviction strengthens the philosophy of existentialism ?He (the priest) wasn?t even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man.? (120) As Meursault mentions that the priest ?was living like a dead man? suggests that he feels as if the priest has allowed religion to hinder his physical life as it restricts him from certain activities and proposes many consequences for ?sinning? which includes murder. Meursault believes that the priest was not experiencing all the physical pleasure the Earth had to offer. Finally, Meursault?s acceptance of his own death summarizes his lack of emotion as the majority of society dreads the idea of the afterlife. Yet, Meursault still doesn?t let the emotional idea of the end of his life affect his present physical life. ...read more.

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