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Two Pairs Of Lovers Essay

1150 words - 5 pages

Love is a universal theme in life, and creative minds all over the world constantly find new ways to incorporate it into their work. Such artists include Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte, with his painting The Lovers, and French author Albert Camus, writer of The Stranger. The Lovers’ primary subjects are two individuals, a man and a woman, locked in an intimate embrace. They have their faces enshrouded with a white veil, preventing them from viewing each other. The man is wearing a black suit and the woman dons a red garment. Behind them is a cloudy night sky, while above is a white wall and to the right, a red wall. Camus’ work does not focus on love as a major theme, yet ...view middle of the document...

The lovers in the book, on the other hand, seem to feel otherwise. Readers constantly find Meursault saying “I wanted her so bad when I saw her in that pretty red-and-white striped dress and leather sandals. You could make out the shape of her firm breasts, and her tan made her face look like a flower. […] I held her to me and we hurried to catch a bus, get back, go to my place, and throw ourselves onto my bed” (35). His thoughts on the relationship are primarily based on physical desire and little else. Yet unlike Meursault, Marie tries to add more meaning to her relationship, and asks if Meursault loves her. He replies by admitting that “it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so” (35). Marie answers with an expression of sadness, which does not truly bother Meursault since making her happy is not a top priority anyway. Unlike the unequal give-and-take of their relationship, Magritte’s lovers can add emotion to their relationship even with obstacles in the way.
Although the barrier of fabric, of the couple in the painting, adds a deeper meaning to their love, it also represents the inability to completely unveil someone’s true feelings. For instance, the two faces are obscured, so the man will never know whether the woman he is embracing is smiling or crying, and vice versa. Instead, the pair remains isolated with their emotions, just as Meursault true character stays hidden from Marie. As an absurdist, Meursault is detached from the rest of the world and feels little emotion overall; his mother died and it made no difference to him, his girlfriend loves him and he feels no obligation to have the same thoughts, he kills a man and expresses no regrets for this act, etc. Even Marie realizes that Meursault is different and “she mumbled [to Meursault that he] was peculiar, that that was probably why she loved [him] but that one day [Meursault] might hate her for the same reason” (42). Marie, like the figures in the painting, is never able to see through the cloth and understand Meursault’s absurdist ways, so she easily classifies him as “peculiar.”
Disguising facial expressions comes with another disadvantage. As stated above, it prevents a couple from understanding the other, but it also interrupts the ability to...

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