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Critical Review Of The Stranger By Albert Camus

1305 words - 5 pages

"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life"- Albert CamusThroughout his life Albert believed the world is absurd, without purpose, and leading only onto death. Sunday through Saturday people go through the same motions, repeating the same lives until one day the question of why overcomes us. This causes many in the world to search for an explanation of life. The Absurd refers to this pointless quest for meaning in a universe devoid of purpose. Camus came to the conclusion that there is nothing beyond this world, and we are simply thrown into this existence with the only outcome being death, "since we are all going to die it is obvious the when and how don't matter" (114). Coming to terms with the Absurd is what accounts for the 'strangeness' experienced by every human being with the world. Thus, the feeling of absurdity is the separation between man and his life. It is this theory of absurdity that Camus successfully elaborates in his novel The Stranger. The novel itself is split into two parts, the first being more of an introduction than the second. It presents the main character Mersault and follows him as he unwittingly gets drawn into a murder while visiting an Algerian beach with his friend Raymond. The second part consists of Mersault's trial and the days leading up to his gruesome execution at the guillotine. A large part of the novel deals with Mersault becoming a stranger in his life. I believe that Camus effectively reveals this aspect of absurdity through the character development of Mersault, point of view in the first person, and a motif of heat. In the end Camus brings each of these stylistic devices together to bring out the main idea of his philosophy of the meaningless world that we live in.In the development of Mersault's character, Camus is able to show how Mersault begins to feel and come to terms with Absurdity. One major attribute of Mersault is his determination not to lie. He says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and immediately society feels threatened. During his trial, Mersault's lawyer asks Mersault to say that he feels remorse for what he did but Mersault refuses simply because those were not his feelings. Mersault's refusal to lie allows the reader to see his natural desire for the truth. In the beginning of the novel Mersault goes to his mother's funeral. While there, he does not cry or show any sign of sorrow. These actions are later used against him in court as the prosecution exploits Mersault as an insensitive, hateful criminal. In reality Mersault is not vile, he just does not adhere to the normal standard of human behavior. He has not set out on a quest to find out why his mother died, he simply accepts it. It occurs to him that "one more Sunday [is] over, that Maman [is] buried now, that [he is] going back to work, and that, really, nothing [has] changed" (24). It is here that Camus reveals...

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