What Is Existentialism In The Stranger

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What if we all lived lives believing there is no true purpose of our existence? In the novel The Stranger, author Albert Camus conveys his ideas of existentialism through the life of main character, Meursault. In this novel, Camus works in his own philosophical views, pushing the idea that human existence has no rational meaning or cause. But, since this isn’t something individuals usually accept they are essentially attempting to put a meaning behind their lives. There are three main events that affect Meursault in one way or another. From the death of his mother, the murder he commits, to this revelation of the meaning and importance of his life, you are able to see the emotions Meursault feels and how he experiences life with such a standpoint.…show more content…
This causes a transition from the death of his mother to later the trial of the murder. After committing the murder, Meursault struggles to understand the reasoning behind why society begins to look down on him, as well as his irrational attitude and ideas. Whilst Meursault is in trial, his lawyer and the people around him attempt to put logic behind why he decided to kill “the Arab”. They attempt to give this act reasoning and an explanation. This ties to a theme of absurdity, exhibiting the fact that there always seems to be a reason or excuse to why a person does something uncharacteristic, or immoral. While the reasoning behind the murder is less prominent, it can be seen as a way for Meursault to test his emotions, or sense of care. Throughout Meursault's trial, the jury and judge tend to question him more about his mother rather than the murder, possibly picking apart his background, hoping to find logic behind why he would kill someone. “But he cut me off and urged me one last time, drawing himself up to his full height and asking me if I believed in God. I said no” (p. 69). When first questioned about the murder, the magistrate was more appalled with the fact that Meursault didn’t believe in God rather than the murder. “ I accuse this man of burying his mother with crime in his heart” (p. 96). Ultimately the judge primarily focuses on Meursault’s life before the murder, and his history…show more content…
Once Meursault is sentenced to death, he begins to show feeling, as Camus starts to push the idea that death is the only certainty in ones life. Meursault soon recognizes the fact that he will definitely die, providing him with something he can be sure of. Camus incorporates this paradox, shown when Meursault is only able to achieve true happiness when he is about to die, he obtains an accurate perception of life. He comes to terms with the idea that death is unavoidable, comforting him. “That meant, of course, I was to die. Sooner than others, obviously. 'But,' I reminded myself, 'it's common knowledge that life isn't worth living, anyhow.' And, on a wide view, I could see that it makes little difference whether one dies at the age of thirty or threescore and ten-- since, in either case, other men will continue living, the world will go on as before” (p. 114). The theme of absurdity appears due to the fact that the majority of people don’t go on living their lives believing no one will remember their existence. Meursault’s emotional transition fades from finding no importance in human existence, to the the idea of the only certainty in one's life is death. Throughout Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger the idea of existentialism and absurdity is portrayed through the life of main character Meursault. Through this first person narrative, we experience his viewpoint on life and the acceleration of its meaning
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