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The significance of the fatal flaws of Meursault and Oedipus in The Outsider and Oedipus the King

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The significance of the fatal flaws of Meursault and Oedipus in The Outsider and Oedipus the King The protagonists Meursault and Oedipus in The Outsider and Oedipus the King are presented in their respective works as characters with flaws ? flaws that are fairly minor initially, but develop progressively into catalysts for their eventual demise. Ostensibly, these two characters are significantly different, yet comparisons can be drawn between the two: Meursault?s self indulgent characteristics can be seen in Oedipus? arrogance, Meursault?s apathy ? or emotional blindness also images Oedipus? figurative blindness, and Oedipus? ego, or his stubbornness in standing by his morals, is comparable to Meursault?s complete lack of morals. Finally, both characters experience a fall from grace as a direct result of their flaws. One generally overlooked flaw of Meursault is his self indulgent characteristics, which plays a rather pivotal role in Camus? The Outsider, only ever apparent during the scene where Meursault kills the Arab for no discernible reason. ?I realized that I?d destroyed the balance of the day and the perfect silence of the beach where I?d been happy?. [1] This is Meursault?s response after killing someone; subsequently, he fires four more shots into the dead body out of anger as the killing has ?destroyed the balance of the day?[2], neither worried, nor concerned he had taken a man?s life. ...read more.


Oedipus? ego is inseparable with his arrogance. His ego is revealed in his response to Tiresias during their confrontation, ?...when did you ever prove yourself a prophet? ... No, but I came by, Oedipus the ignorant, I stopped the sphinx!?.[10] His ego is constantly nurtured by the Chorus: ?The omens were good that day you brought us joy ? be the same man today!?.[11] This constant encouragement, enhanced by the offering of the ?branches wound in wool?[12], creates a set of standards and expectations upon which Oedipus feels he has to live up to. Gradually, the sense of standing on moral high ground results in clouded judgement and blindness to the truth as he only wants to hear what pleases him. Meursault, on the other hand, can be seen as the opposite. He lacks any sort of morals due to his apathy, resulting in the lack of judgement which society deems necessary. ?My whole being went tense and I tightened the grip on the gun. The trigger gave in, I felt the sharp but deafening noise, that it all started?.[13]This is exactly how Meursault narrated his killing. ...read more.


The significance of flaws is that it resonates and relates to the readers and the audience; it is something real. For both characters, their flaws mingle and reinforce each other, and finally led to their eventual demise. Oedipus becomes a tragic hero as sympathy is evoked for him because his flaws are accompanying with positive attributes which redeem him to an extent. Meursault, however, is socially inept and absurd, and most of all he has no positive attributes that society can identify. No sympathy, therefore, is evoked. Camus thus raises the notion that not being ?normal? in society can result in heavy persecution. Meursault was ultimately not executed for killing the Arab, but for his apathy and indifference.[17] ________________ [1] Camus, Albert, The Outsider. London, Penguin Books Ltd, 2000. 60 (Hereafter cited as Camus followed by the page number(s)) [2] Camus 60 [3] Sophocles, The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonous. London, Penguin Books Ltd, 1984 (450BC). 159 (Hereafter cited as Sophocles followed by the page number(s)) [4] Sophocles, 159 [5] Sophocles 181 [6] Sophocles 181 [7] Sophocles 183 [8] Camus 9 [9] Camus 28 [10] Sophocles 182 [11] Sophocles 161 [12] Sophocles 159 [13] Camus 60 [14] Sophocles 240 [15] Sophocles 241 [16] Camus 117 [17] Camus 118 (Afterword) ...read more.

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