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How Is one's Perception of the Absurd developed (through the Character of Meursault) in the Outsider?

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Introduction

How Is one's Perception of the Absurd developed (through the Character of Meursault) in the Outsider? Albert Camus, born on the 7th of November 1913 in Algeria, was a French journalist, author and philosopher. After World War I many Europeans lost faith and began to question certain aspects of life. Camus and various existential writers, such as Samuel Beckett, judged that life was mainly monotonous and grey and that the ?loss of human ultimate certainties?[1] occurred. Although Camus openly said: ?No, I am not an existentialist?[2], mainly two philosophical notions can be found in The Outsider. Absurdism is ?the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe?[3], thus all efforts of humans to find rationality will ultimately fail as no such meaning in life exists. Another philosophy which is pervasive in the novel is existentialism, which is the belief ?that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions?[4]. The Outsider is the story about Meursault, the narrator and protagonist, who, following a series of irrational events commits homicide and is put on trial. ...read more.

Middle

Another emotion that reveal Camus' philosophical thoughts is love. Meursault shows a certain callousness towards his girlfriend Marie. The following paragraph creates a straight forward picture of the protagonist's relationship. ?A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so. She looked sad. But as we were fixing lunch, and for no apparent reason, she laughed in such a way that I kissed her.? (Part 1 Chapter 4) This might provoke a hostile feeling within the conservative reader. By definition, love is an ?intense feeling of deep affection?, it can bring meaning and purpose into life. This contradiction implies that the protagonist is a loveless person. The reader is poised to perceive a sense of rejection towards Meursault; his lack of altruism seems to portray his meaningless attitude towards life. Yet again the reader can only empathize on a minimalistic base with the protagonist. This lack of identification creates doubt within of what the character of Meursault lives for. At this point one is able to see how Camus uses the notion of love and Meursault's indifference concerning it, to guide the reader towards re-thinking the purpose of life. ...read more.

Conclusion

This becomes clear when Meursault confesses to the homicide. However for the magistrate and the courtroom it is more complex than this conviction; they want an explanation. At this point the reader again the tenet of the irrationality of the universe. There is no logical explanation for the court to try to understand his indifference. Meursault took the decision to kill a human being, and stands straight for it. On the other hand society cannot accept his motive, thus his honesty, as a valid justification behind the crime, which proposes such irrationality. They cannot interpret the child like behavior of the convict, and come to the conclusion that he has “no place in a society whose most fundamental rules [he] ignored, nor [that he] knew nothing of the most basic human reactions” (2.4.) . In conclusion Camus makes it hard for the reader to deduct these philosophical notions ________________ [1] Beckett, Samuel Barclay. "THE ABSURDITY OF SAMUEL BECKETT." THE ABSURDITY OF SAMUEL BECKETT - CHAPTER 3. Center For Comparative Cultural Studies, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <http://www.samuel-beckett.net/CH_3.HTM>. [2]From an interview with Jeanine Delpech, in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, (1945). Cited in Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970) [3]http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/absurdism?q=absurdism [4]http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/existentialism-definition-faq.htm ...read more.

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