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The novel "The Stranger," written by a French author named Albert Camus in 1942, is one of the novels that depict metaphysical aspects such as absurdity, externalism, and alienation. Meursault, the novel's narrator as well as the lead villain, is one of the novel's main and most interesting protagonists. Furthermore, he is a protagonist who, after the death of his mother, commits murder and is sentenced to death. Meursault's coworker, Marie Cardona, expresses an interest in marrying him amid his uninteresting appearance. Raymond Sintes, Meursault’s neighbor, portrays violence and anger especially due to his suspicions that his mistress is unfaithful. He also portrays loyalty to his neighbour Meursault as he testifies in support of him. Thomas Perez is another important character in the novel because of his unique and genuine relationship with Meursault. Other characters in the novel include the Chaplain, the Caretaker, the Examining Magistrate, Meursault’s mother among others.
The novel gives a reflection of the philosophy of absurdity that asserts that life is meaningless and senseless thus justifying irresponsibility and irrational decision making in society. Meursault portrays an indifferent perception of life and also shows lack of morals when he commits murder and lacks remorse about his actions. The examining magistrate uses the phrase “Monsieur Antichrist” during trail to refer to him due to his attitude during trial and he remarks, “Never in all my experience have I known a soul so case-hardened as yours” (Camus, 1946). This was after he showed Meursault the crucifix hoping that he would be remorseful and the fear of God would make him repent his sins. On the contrary, he felt that the magistrate’s point was of minor importance and he felt no regret whatsoever. The fact that the narrator only finds happiness from his indifferent and irrational attitudes, he eventually admits that life is senseless and meaningless. This was after he attacked the Chaplain before his scheduled execution as he struggled with accepting the situation and inevitability of his sentence.
Further, it is evident that the narrator lacks feelings and ignores the importance of relationships in society. Despite the fact that Marie Cardona is in love with Meursault and is willing to support him, he does not appreciate or show any feelings whatsoever to her. In fact, he tells her during her visit at his apartment one Saturday “it didn’t mean anything” and that marrying her had no importance other than giving her the pleasure (Camus, 1946). His attitude and response shows self-prescribed isolation from human emotion, the society and normal logic. During is questioning with the lawyer representing him, he is asked whether his mother’s funeral was a sad occasion and his response was that “in the recent years I have lost the habit of noting my feelings” (Camus, 1946). This clearly shows that he is detached from normal human feelings such as love, sympathy and pain and only finds motivation from the physical and concern for himself alone. In summary, according to the philosophical thinking of absurdity portrayed in the novel, love, morality, remorse, rationality and meaning are foreign aspects that make no sense in life.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
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