A Comparison of the Heroes Of The Stranger (The Outsider) and The Myth of Sisyphus
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The Absurd Heroes Of The Stranger (The Outsider) and The Myth of Sisyphus
In The Myth of Sisyphus, Sisyphus is an absurd hero because he realizes his situation, does not appeal, and yet continues the struggle. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that The Stranger is, in narrative style, also showing us an absurd hero, or the beginning of an absurd hero in Meursault.
In The Myth of Sisyphus Camus establishes the epistemology on which he bases all his works. Ant it's a very simple epistemology. He says: "This heart within me I feel and I judge that I exist. This world I can touch and likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge and the rest is construction. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give to that assurance the gap will never be filled." So for Camus one finds that life has value but no meaning. Meaning implies some sort of goal, some teleological approach, and, for Camus, there is no goal. Life is not a pilgrimage, death is not an open door, but it is a closed and blank wall which functions finally, of course, to force us to concentrate on life.
In Camus there is a precise use of the word "absurd". "Absurd" comes from the Latin surdis and in surdis we have a dual definition: it means irrational, insensible (from that side of it we still use the word in mathematics; a 'surd' is an irrational number). But Camus concentrates on the other meaning which comes from the root. That is, "deaf, silent". There are many examples in literature of this particular kind of silence. I think of Romeo and Juliet when Juliet has been ordered by her parents to marry the County Paris, and in one of Shakespeare's best scenes in that play, he has Juliet's father talking...
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...e. But rather we are shown as small and mortal specks on a minor planet, in an ordinary solar system, located no place in particular, in infinite space, and subject to all sorts of dark irrational forces, over which we have little control. We must live and must die with the fear and anxiety, the meaninglessness, frustration and futility that people today know. One must live in the present moment and attempt to find out the actual, bare, given facts of human existence; to find them out, to face them and to live with them. Camus does this; no more and no less. He becomes, as it were, a saint without a God. One could do worse than recall the epigraph which Camus uses at the beginning of The Myth of Sisyphus. He quotes from the Greek poet, Pindar, writing in the 5th century B.C.; "O my soul, do not aspire to immortal live, but exhaust the limits of the possible".