While reading The Stranger I noticed that traits that Albert Camus character depicts in the book are closely related to the theories of Sigmund Freud on moral human behavior. Albert Camus portrays his character of Meursault as a numb, emotionless person that seems to mindlessly play out his role in society, acting in a manner that he sees as the way he’s supposed to act, always living in the moment with his instincts driving him, and if the right circumstance presents itself the primal deep seeded animal will come out. I believe that most of the character’s traits fall under Freud’s notion of the Id and Ego mental apparatus, and don’t believe that his idea of the super-ego is represented in this book.
In the beginning of The Stranger Meursault first showed himself as a numb, emotionless person, who goes through the motions of life simply driven by his instincts when he attended his mother’s funeral. When at the funeral he showed no emotion whatsoever, here his mother lies dead and he should be grieving, yet all he really notices is how hot the room was they were holding the funeral in. He didn’t even wish to see her body before she was buried to say his goodbyes. This shows me that he has no moral bind to anyone or anything, and the only feelings he has is those given to him from primal instinct, of which are just needed for survival like being hungry, tired, hot, and so on. Freud would say that’s depicts how all humans are. According to James Strachey, Freud believes that the way we as humans conduct ourselves throughout our lives is directly related to the Id, which is everything that is inherited from our ancestors and is fixed into us at berth, and it’s the force caused by the need of our Id that is our instincts (14).
Another part in the book that illustrates the Meursault as being driven purely by instinct is depicted the day after his mother’s funeral when he becomes intimate with Marie for the first time. Once again, there are no signs of emotion or grief to be found, and all that was driving him was his sexual instinctive impulses. Once again, this concept falls under Freud’s views of the human beings instinctual creatures driven by our sexual desires. According to Joan Riviere, Freud believes that one of our two Basic instincts is the sexual instinct, which is not only the inhibited sexual instinct, but it’s also the self-preservation instinct (37). According to James Strachey, Freud thinks the self-preservation instinct is appointed to our ego, which takes control over the Id’s demands/ instincts, by deciding whether they should be able to receive satisfaction (15). When making decisions though, the ego is a very submissive slave to the Id, and it is tempted by its needs often (Costigan 234). This to me says that the ego, more times than not, gives in to the Ids demand, which defines Meursault’s mannerisms perfectly.
Now I would like to discuss the correlation between the book and Freud’s notion of the superego. ...