Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): The Gentle Meursault

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): The Gentle Meursault

Length: 688 words (2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The Gentle Meursault of Camus’s The Stranger (The Outsider)

In Albert Camus’s The Stranger, Meursault, the protagonist, could be seen as immoral if he were judged on the basis of his actions alone. However, through Camus’s use of a first person narrative, we begin to understand Meursault as not an immoral man, but simply an indifferent one. Meursault is a symbol of the universe, and so in understanding him we understand that the universe is also not evil, but instead a place of gentle indifference.

At first glance, Meursault could be seen as an evil man. He shows no grief at his mother’s funeral, worrying more about the heat. His first reaction to his mother’s death is not sadness, it is a matter-of-fact, unemotional acceptance of the situation. “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” Later on in the story, Meursault kills an Arab on the beach, and his only concern is that he has ruined the calm, pleasant day he was having. When he is in jail, the magistrate comes in an attempt to save Meursault’s soul, but instead of cooperating, Meursault simply confounds the magistrate by refusing to believe in God. Even at his trial, Meursault doesn’t show any remorse for having killed the Arab. Based on this evidence alone, how can we not see Meursault as evil?

In the novel, we are given a more complete view of Meursault. The story is told from his point-of-view, which allows us to understand the situation as Meursault perceives it. Looking at the situation in this light, we can see Meursault as not evil, but simply indifferent and detached from life. He doesn’t attempt to get wrapped up in emotion or relationships, he just takes things as they come, doing whatever is easiest for him. He becomes friends with Raymond and agrees to marry Marie simply because he doesn’t have a very good reason not to. Seeing the story from Meursault’s viewpoint, we understand that even killing the Arab wasn’t an act of malice or evil intent. As Meursault puts it, “My nature is such that my physical needs often get in the way of my feelings.” With this in context, things begin to make more sense. Meursault’s seemingly cryptic statement that he murdered the Arab “because of the sun” can be taken as truth. Meursault does things that society judges as wrong not because he is evil or wants to appear immoral, but because the sun and heat, symbols for Meursault’s emotional state, cause him to become uncomfortable and act “inappropriately.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): The Gentle Meursault." 18 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Meursault’s Indifference

- Meursault’s Indifference in The Stranger (The Outsider)   The language in The Stranger (The Outsider) is strikingly simple. The sentences are molded to fit their function. They state what Meursault, the narrator believes. More importantly, their structure conveys Meursault’s feelings. His feelings are a prominent focal point of the novel. With all of the varying emotions and feelings he has throughout the story, there is one general term that can be applied to them all: indifferent. Meursault delights in simple pleasures, but never fully indulges himself into any of his endeavors....   [tags: Camus Stranger Essays]

Research Papers
1451 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Conformity

- Conformity in Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) Camus' novel The Stranger presents the character of Meursault who, after killing an Arab, is sentenced to death. This conflict portrays the stark contrast between the morals of society and Meursault's evident lack of them; he is condemned to death, less for the Arab's murder, than for refusing to conform to society's standards. Meursault is an anomaly in society; he cannot relate directly to others because he does not live as they do. Meursault is simplistic, even detached; he speaks of his mother's death without regret for her loss, merely stating: "Maman died today." He goes on to mention that perhaps it was yesterday - he is not sure...   [tags: Camus Stranger Essays]

Research Papers
860 words (2.5 pages)

The Stranger By Albert Camus Essay

- Meursault is condemned to die by guillotine and Sisyphus is given the burden of having to do an eternity of hard labor, yet in both of these tragic situations they both live without illusions. Thus both men come to light with the realities and truths of their lives and can now be truly happy. In the essay “the Myth of Sisyphus “and the philosophical fiction novel The Stranger by Albert Camus the existentialist idea is that human life is meant to have futile suffering in it and people should not end their lives because of this abyss of pain; but embrace the life that is given, that once the absurdity is identified it is then that one can be elated and content with their lives....   [tags: Absurdism, Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus]

Research Papers
1334 words (3.8 pages)

The Hero in The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- The Hero in Camus’s The Stranger (The Outsider) Certain novels include a character who, based solely on his actions, would appear to be evil, but in an in-depth examination, can be seen in a different, more sympathetic light. The character Meursault, in Albert Camus’s The Stranger, is notable for this description. While his murderous crime and indifference to emotions make him seem to be cretinous, his dramatic transformation at the end of the story make us feel for him. When he finally grasps the theme of the book, embracing the “gentle indifference” of the universe, he also grabs our hearts, in becoming an “absurd” hero....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Research Papers
772 words (2.2 pages)

Analysis Of Meursault 's ' Meursault ' Essay

- At the very beginning to the novel Meursault decides to take a proactive existential approach to life: deny suicide and create his own meaning. Only halfway through the novel Meursault starts to utilize his complete freedom, thus he creates a passion and begins to realize the only pleasures in life he can create are the ones he omits. Camus often talks about freedom being the moment of consciousness but contentness; one becomes free when they accept the absurd and find a passion. Meursault’s friend and neighbour, Raymond, is known as a pimp around the city, and invites Meursault to a friend’s cottage and Raymond as well suggests he bring Marie with him....   [tags: Absurdism, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus]

Research Papers
1425 words (4.1 pages)

The Value of Life in The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- The Value of Life in Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) In Albert Camus' existentialist novel “The Stranger,”the alienation of Meursault from society conveys to the reader the theme of the novel: In light of the lack of a higher deity, all promise of value rests in life itself. To express this theme, Camus develops Meursault’s persona, satirizes many institutions, alludes to religion, and creates many moral and ethical questions. The universal nature of these questions reveal why “The Stranger” remains relevant to society....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Research Papers
740 words (2.1 pages)

Motif of Violence in The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- Motif of Violence in Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) The Stranger written by Albert Camus is an absurdist novel revolving around the protagonist, Meursault. A major motif in the novel is violence. There are various places where violence takes place and they lead to the major violent act, which relates directly to the theme of the book. The major violent act of killing an Arab committed by Meursault leads to the complete metamorphosis of his character and he realizes the absurdity of life....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Free Essays
730 words (2.1 pages)

The Stranger by Albert Camus - Man or Monster? Essay

- Man or Monster in Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider) In Albert Camus’ absurdist novel, The Stranger, Meursault’s detachment from society and his killing of the Arab reveal moral and ethical implications for him and his society. As is common in many absurdist novels, Camus discusses the estrangement - and later development - of an individual in a benign and indifferent universe, one in which conformity prevails. Camus not only satirizes the conformity of society, but religion and the legal system as well....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Free Essays
584 words (1.7 pages)

Absurdity in Albert Camus’ The Stranger Essay

- The word "absurd" or "absurdity" is very peculiar in that there is no clear definition for the term. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary gave its definition of "absurd" as "having no rational or orderly relationship to human life: meaningless, also: lacking order or value." Many existential philosophers have defined it in their own manner. Soren Kierkegarrd, a pre-World War II German philosopher, defined absurd as "that quality of Christian faith which runs counter to all reasonable human expectation" (Woelfel 40)....   [tags: The Outsider Essays]

Research Papers
2443 words (7 pages)

Free College Essays - The Motif of the Sun in The Stranger by Albert Camus

- The Motif of the Sun in The Stranger In Camus' novel The Stranger the predominate motif of the sun has been variously interpreted by many critics as a symbol of Meursault's repressed emotions. This is an interpretation I simply cannot accept, for I have always regarded the sun as symbolic of the superego - the force of society within Meursault. Like the sun, society is generally thought to be a positive thing. People usually regard a good strong society that instills its members with a strong, unified code of morals as something to be desired....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Free Essays
390 words (1.1 pages)

Related Searches

” The sun is present at his mother’s funeral, when he refuses to grieve. It is also at he beach, and it is the sun in his eyes that causes him to shot the Arab. Finally, the sun is present at Meursault’s trial, when he doesn’t repent or show any kind of remorse for anything he has done, and is therefore condemned.

Because Meursault is a symbol for the universe, people’s misunderstanding him parallels the way we misunderstand the way the world and the universe work. Both religion and the judicial system see Meursault as evil, and both these establishments misunderstand the universe. This is important in the second theme of The Stranger, which is that conformity through establishments such as religion and the court system leads to a blinding to the truth, rather than the path to the truth it is supposed to provide. Both the court and religion condemn Meursault not only because he is indifferent, but because he is different. When we can see beyond their prejudices and see Meursault, not as an evil man, but as a man who simply is gently indifferent, we can at last understand the universe as well. Meursault himself comes to this realization at the end of the novel. “I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself - so like a brother, really - I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.” Through understanding Meursault, we can also reach this existentialist conclusion and find happiness, not in empty systems like religion, but instead in ourselves.
Return to