• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    The Stark effects of being absurd in society- The Outsider

    4 star(s)

    Funeral tomorrow. Yours sincerely.' That doesn't mean anything. It may have been yesterday." We see Meursault's inability to conform to humanity in the event of his mother's death, and the use of the short sentence stating quality. He merely retells the dubious facts of her death as mundane as the telegram had stated it.

  2. Joe-Clarissa-Jed-ENDURING LOVE. Background information about the character details about family, career

    Joe is not comfortable around Jed as he cannot explain his behavior. He is terribly afraid of Parry, and automatically thinks Parry wants to kill him : "What reason had I given him for murdering me?

  1. Hamlet Journal - rewriting key passages from the play

    They drive me towards revenge. Yet when it comes to my honor, I cannot forgive so fast. I will not accept apology until experts tell me how to forgive you without staining my honor. Until then I can only accept your love as love.

  2. World literature - the outsider

    of freedom, however this is controlled by the prison, displaying the obsession for control. This control is also contrasted with the nature outside the building. When Meursault is able to briefly leave his prison he recalls the "familiar sounds and colours of the summer evening" ( Camus,93), showing his longings for nature and freedom.

  1. The Stranger: The Relationship between Meursalt and the Reader Sentimentally speaking, the character ...

    and I swam out ways, and we felt a closeness as we moved in unison and were happy." This release of emotion foreshadows his assimilation into the sentimental ways of man, though it would be short-lived. In a tragic twist of events, Meursault kills an Arab while on the beach; he shoots him five times.

  2. Discuss the irrationality of human existence within the The Outsider by Albert Camus and ...

    Meursault is perceived as an outsider to society because of his acceptance that there is no rational meaning in human existence. Furthermore, his way of thinking and the way he acts show no basis on reason, but more so, on irrationality. This proves that, for Meursault, rational meaning is nonexistent.

  1. In The Wind in the Willows, author Keneth Grahame portrays each character as having ...

    Grahame reinforces the idea of Toad's dreamlike reality when he describes Toad's behavior after stealing the motor-car in Chapter Ten: "as if in a dream, he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver's seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the lever and swung the car around the yard

  2. How adopting a philosophical standpoint can alter one's interpretation of the text &amp;quot;The Outsider&amp;quot; ...

    Text and context. ________________ Marking Criteria Excel V. Good Satisfac-tory Develop. Not Shown Constructs a convincing alternative reading of the The Outsider. Demonstrates a clear understanding of the way readers are positioned to accept an ideology. Well-structured with a clear introduction, body and conclusion. Correct paragraphing and clear transitions.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work