Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The philosophy of existentialism explicates that people are in control of their own lives and only themselves are elemental in the influencing their opinions, morals and actions.

Literature critics have labeled Camus's the outsider as an existentialist novel. Camus denies the notion. However the novel does have traits of existentialist ideology.

An existentialist is free do decide what is ethical. If it is legitimate to him or her, it is legitimate. They believe that the human nature is nothing more than we make of it.

Camus in that sense is a proponent of the existentialist cause. Meursault lives life by his own rules. In the afterword of the novel (Camus 1955), he asks the reader why Meursault doesn't play the game. Camus replies"He refuses to lie...saying more than one feels". Meursault is not shackled by the rules of society in the sense that he doesn't try to make life simpler by hiding his thoughts. He is objective in this actions and refuses to state what he doesn't believe. When asked if he could have controlled his natural feelings on the day of the murder, he replies,"No, because it's not true."

There is no social authority for Meursault. He doesn't buckle under social pressure to hide his opinions and ideas, he simply does them. The reader finds it shocking that Meursault stalks the lady he was observing at Celeste's. However to Meursault it is convention. If he wants to know more about this "peculiar" lady, than it is fit to do follow her. If Meursault doesn't feel like crying during his mother's funeral because to he hadn't related to her in some time, than it is valid. For the reader the very idea of the death of our mother sends us into paralytic shock, however Meursault remains indifferent for he had, at least recently, no apparent connection with his mother. The trial goes on and persecutes Meursault for this event, however he seems, somewhat in shock when the court debates the point. To him it was perfectly valid to drink white coffee, smoke a cigarette and date Marie the day after his mother's death. However to both the reader and the prosecutor, the very notion of fun,the day after one's mother's death is blasphemous.

Meursault has no faith in god either. He refused to see the chaplain and simply stated he doesn't believe in god. There is no faith based authority that rules Meursault. In the conversation with the magistrate, Meursault denies belief in god even though it could have brought him on the good side of the magistrate, and thus, even though slightly, influence his case for him. Meursault believes in the truth. For him the truth was that there was no god, and he will not wave from the truth no matter the circumstances. The chaplain also had no avail in converting Meursault. "Every man that I've known in your position has turned towards Him",(112). The quote shows that unlike other prisoners Meursault is not burdened by the authority of god, and thus has not left his path into larger hands. He is in control of his actions and believe, that only himself is the cause for the situation he is.

To Meursault everything is an absolute. If he does a job, he gets it done. If he likes Marie he lets her know, physically even. If he isn't sad about his mother's death, than he doesn't show it. " I replied that I thought my case was very simple",(63). To Meursault, even his case was an absolute. He had murdered someone and was to be punished. There need not be the formal procession of court and the hiring of lawyers to forward his case, Meursault believes, the case is simple, and Meursault is ready to accept the decision.

Existentialists believe that the only thing that is true is the physical world, and they lay an influence in human nature. The heat has influenced Meursault in countless accounts. He was getting annoyed when the Magistrate for talking about god, not because of his atheist belief but because of the heat. He shot the Arab due to the heat. He didn't like Marie because of the heat. He didn't feel remorse on his mother's funeral, not because he loathed his mother, but because he was annoyed by the heat. The physical scenario plays more of an influence on human actions, than human nature itself.

Finally in the theme of Death, Meursault follows an existentialist view point. He believes that death is inevitable. May it have be "today.Or maybe yesterday",(9), or even by 1 shot or 5 or "read out at eight o'clock rather than at five o' clock...decided upon by men who change their underwear...credited to so vague an entity as the French(or German, or Chinese) people", death was still death. It was the inevitable end and Meursault realized this near the end of his death, in his time in prison after the trial.

In summation the existentialist have no authority. They are not controlled by either institutions of social manner and faith and they believe that the actions they decided to do are the only significant influence on their lives and current scenario. Death to them is an inevitability and the only thing that matters is the physical world, such as the heat, and not human nature.

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