Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Relatable Stranger: How and Why We Are Meursault Essay -- Literary

The Relatable Stranger: How and Why We Are Meursault Using his existentialist text The Stranger as a vessel for his own philosophical ideals, absurdist Albert Camus poses a question most essential to human existence: when released from the shackles of tediously perpetuated societal routine, how does a man function? Embodying the answer to this question is Monsieur Meursault, whose once rational speech and logical action unravel in the heat of circumstance to illustrate what Camus deems â€Å"the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.† Possessing the characteristics of any respectable gentleman, Meursault is honest, sensible, and extremely adaptable to the universe in motion around him, substituting mindless rhetoric and the excuse of emotional abundance with an acuity of thought and proclivity to raw sensation. By structuring his philosophy around a man with such a nonspecific and thus relatable identity, Camus evokes sympathy by touching at the bestial necessity of freedom for the individual, mocked by a society interested on ly in docile collectivity. Taking little stock in the unspoken and assumed truths of the culture in which he exists, Meursault follows a more natural and almost physiological rhythm of emotion and sensuality. After learning of the death of his mother, he must travel â€Å"about eighty kilometers from Algiers† for the funeral (Camus 3). Rather than emphasize the exhaustive capability of trauma, Meursault elicits reason, explaining that â€Å"it was probably because of all the rushing around, and on top of that the bumpy ride, the smell of gasoline, and the glare of the sky and the road, that [he] dozed off† (Camus 4). After returning home from the funeral, he awakens the next morning and decides to take a swim in the pu... ... indifference of the world† (Camus 122). With sympathy toward Meursault secured, a natural disapproval of the society who condemns him is to be formed. By placing a mirror before the very society which this text intends to describe, the novel forces those who read it to reevaluate their seemingly natural assumptions concerning the â€Å"frivolous indulgence† of emotion, the stone cold immovability of morality, and most of all the purpose of judgment (Camus 40). In his essay on the guillotine, Camus defines compassion as that which â€Å"does not exclude punishment, but [which] withholds an ultimate condemnation† (Camus 40). With the creation of such a relatable character as Meursault, Albert Camus attempts to breathe compassion into an otherwise indifferent society, acting as the catalyst for a reaction which both sympathizes and reconsiders what essentially makes us human.

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