Examine the characterization of the central characters in The Outsider and Antigone and how this is important to the texts as a whole?

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World Literature Assignment 1

English A1 Higher Level

Examine the characterization of the central characters

in The Outsider and Antigone and how this is

important to the texts as a whole?

Examine the characterization of the central characters in The Outsider and Antigone and how this is important to the texts as a whole?

Robert Ludlum commented that “Characterization is integral to the theatrical experience.”  This rings true in the play Antigone, written by Jean Anouilh, and can be extended to the novel, The Outsider by Albert Camus, since both authors use characterization to important effect. Their manipulation of style, foils, imagery and action to typify the central characters - Meursault and Antigone - intends to disallow emotional attachment to the protagonists. This disassociation is important to both texts because it enables a more objective exploration of the characters predicament.

Camus uses an indirect style of characterization when crafting Meursault; style, imagery and action have to be independently synthesized by the reader to form an audience dependent understanding of the “inexplicable protagonist” . From the outset Camus writes using a direct, simple uncomplicated style and colloquially familiar register. Meursault describes sex, an intensely passionate experience “She had her leg against mine, and I was fondling her breasts... I kissed her, but badly. Afterwards she came back to my place.”  yet the imagery is literal, his tone inexpressive, detached and indifferent. The choice of vocabulary accurately conveys Meursault’s thoughts; lacking adjectives and adverbs, Meursault avoids analyzing this life. By telling the story in first person, Camus creates an intimacy with the reader, encouraging belief in Meursault’s lack of pretension as the story traces the development of his internal attitude to the external. This begins in the first lines when his apathetic treatment of life is first revealed "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know."  With this type of simple grammatical structure Camus invites the reader to become part of the excessively simple awareness of Meursault.

Through use of literal imagery Camus further defines Meursault’s impassive, resigned attitude. When describing Salamano’s mangy dog he focusses on the objective truth “its hair falling out and becoming covered with blotches and scabs” . This visual imagery evokes a mental picture of a thoroughly unattractive animal, and yet Meursault makes no judgement as to its visual allure. The same is true of Marie, his mistress. He gives a veristic description of her features but never assesses her aesthetic appeal.

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At first glance Meursault’s perfunctory existence seems to be the product of an uneducated simpleton as critic Colin Wilson maintains. Instead Camus reminds us this is not so. Meursault’s ephemeral comrade, the alleged pimp Raymond Sintes, trusts that the University of Algiers  graduate Meursault possesses sufficient intellect and verbal acuity to compose a persuasive letter for Raymond to send to his unfaithful girlfriend . Rene Girard eloquently summarizes the results of Camus characterization of Meursault, "The man [Meursault] is, indeed, a derelict; although intelligent, he has no intellectual life, no love, no friendship, no interest in anyone or faith ...

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