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Written Task 2 Essay

1089 words - 5 pages

Albert Camus’s novel The Outsider is a fictional narrative that presents strong philosophical themes such as the irrationality of the universe and meaningless of human life. Throughout the novel it is clear that the narrator and protagonist – a young man named Meursault – is the only character that is able to understand and appreciate these ideas or philosophical truths. It is for this reason that he is an outsider. Accordingly, other social groups, including women, are represented as shallow as they constantly attempt to identify or create rational structure and meaning in their lives – Camus’s notion of absurdity. Women are a social group that show attributes of attachment, hope and ambition all of which in the novel are a futile attempt to impose rationality when none exists. Thus, Camus implies that women are shallow — lacking the deeper understanding of the universe.

The concept of attachment is associated with many female characters throughout the novel. Marie, clearly shows attachment for Meursault as she delights in physical contact, enjoys kissing in public and engages in casual sex. Furthermore, her visit to Meursault in jail consolidates her sentimental longing for him. Even evidence of Meursault’s mother showing attachment to men can be seen. When the warden of the nursing home was asked if Meursault’s mother “reproach[ed] [Meursault] for having sent her to the home ... he said, ‘Yes’” (Camus, 86). When she looses the last male figure in her life, she soon found another – Thomas Perez. “[Thomas Perez] and your mother had become almost inseparable”(18), said the keeper of the nursing home. Marie also is unable to let go of Meursault even after he turns down marriage proposals, refuses to say that he loves her and goes to jail. These situations of women being attached to male figures in their lives is indicative of various messages. Firstly, it implies that women need to have a male figure in their lives presenting women as overly dependent compared to men. However, the main purpose of the attachment shown by women is to provide contrast to the protagonist – Meursault. True happiness is only achieved by Meursault when he accepts the indifference of the universe. That is, all the physical attachments and illusionary hopes (marriage, love, relationships) only create a false sense that death is avoidable. Meursault realizes this when he asks him self, “[w]hat did it matter that Marie now had a new Meursault to kiss?” (116). Camus implies that the female characters are unable to realize this and do not achieve the enlightenment that Meursault reaches hereafter.

The shallowness of women can also be seen in their failure to see their sexual objectification. There are many incidences where women are used as sexual instruments by men and fail to realize it. Firstly, Meursault admires Marie purely for her physical beauty. He shows no romantic appreciation for Marie’s character. Instead, the relationship is mainly physical as they...

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