The Stranger, by Albert Camus Essay

The Stranger, by Albert Camus Essay

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How do you understand a stranger? How do you judge their actions? In Albert Camus’s existentialist text, The Stranger, the protagonist is a stranger to all but himself and because of his character, society finds Meursault guilty of being an incomprehensible and dangerous alien. The court that judges Meursault ignorantly sentences him to death. However, the first person perspective narrative allows the reader a glimpse into his mind, giving them a chance to understand his character and the actions that inevitably leads him to the guillotine. Although difficult to interpret, Meursault’s character, as it develops throughout his ‘normal’ life, can be expressed through more familiar medias. The main aspects of Meursault’s character — his detachment from society, his strong morals, integrity, and his acceptance of his fate amidst the absurd — are reflected in the Simon and Garfunkel song, The Sound of Silence.
Meursault’s monotonous and emotionally detached character is represented by the second voice in the song. The higher voice — the predominant melody — tends to be more expressive, with a greater range of pitch and volume. Distinctly separate from the melody, the harmonizing voice remains nearly monotonous, holding the same notes only to strike them again and again. Meursault’s character aligns to the tone of this harmonic voice: monotonous, repetitive, and detached. In emotionally charged situations, Meursault rarely responds with anything besides his typical cold, logical observations. Meursault’s narrative begins with this clinical detachment. “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That didn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yester...


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..., and acceptance, which are represented by the Simon and Garfunkel song The Sound of Silence, show the uniqueness and importance of Meursault’s character. They explain the actions which inevitably lead to Meursault’s execution. When Meursault was absurdly judged and sentenced to death, it was clear that he was accused on the basis of his character. Yet, his character was constantly misunderstood and misinterpreted by society, because they found it unnatural. Most importantly, Meursault’s character is what makes him either an existentialist or an absurdist. It is the single most important aspect of the book: whether his traits allowed him to triumph over the absurd. The purpose of The Stranger is not to understand Meursault; it is recognize his struggles against the futile and realize that his character allows him to win.



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The Stranger, by Albert Camus

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