Free Essay

The Outsider by Albert Camus Analysis of Themes

In: Novels

Submitted By Everard1989
Words 679
Pages 3
The Irrationality of the Universe
Though The Stranger is a work of fiction, it contains a strong resonance of Camus’s philosophical notion of absurdity. In his essays, Camus asserts that individual lives and human existence in general have no rational meaning or order. However, because people have difficulty accepting this notion, they constantly attempt to identify or create rational structure and meaning in their lives. The term “absurdity” describes humanity’s futile attempt to find rational order where none exists.

Though Camus does not explicitly refer to the notion of absurdity in The Stranger, the tenets of absurdity operate within the novel. Neither the external world in which Meursault lives nor the internal world of his thoughts and attitudes possesses any rational order. Meursault has no discernable reason for his actions, such as his decision to marry Marie and his decision to kill the Arab.
Society nonetheless attempts to fabricate or impose rational explanations for Meursault’s irrational actions. The idea that things sometimes happen for no reason, and that events sometimes have no meaning is disruptive and threatening to society. The trial sequence in Part Two of the novel represents society’s attempt to manufacture rational order. The prosecutor and Meursault’s lawyer both offer explanations for Meursault’s crime that are based on logic, reason, and the concept of cause and effect. Yet these explanations have no basis in fact and serve only as attempts to defuse the frightening idea that the universe is irrational. The entire trial is therefore an example of absurdity—an instance of humankind’s futile attempt to impose rationality on an irrational universe.

The Meaninglessness of Human Life
A second major component of Camus’s absurdist philosophy is the idea that human life has no redeeming meaning or purpose. Camus argues that the only certain thing in life is the inevitability of death, and, because all humans will eventually meet death, all lives are all equally meaningless. Meursault gradually moves toward this realization throughout the novel, but he does not fully grasp it until after his argument with the chaplain in the final chapter. Meursault realizes that, just as he is indifferent to much of the universe, so is the universe indifferent to him. Like all people, Meursault has been born, will die, and will have no further importance.

Paradoxically, only after Meursault reaches this seemingly dismal realization is he able to attain happiness. When he fully comes to terms with the inevitability of death, he understands that it does not matter whether he dies by execution or lives to die a natural death at an old age. This understanding enables Meursault to put aside his fantasies of escaping execution by filing a successful legal appeal. He realizes that these illusory hopes, which had previously preoccupied his mind, would do little more than create in him a false sense that death is avoidable. Meursault sees that his hope for sustained life has been a burden. His liberation from this false hope means he is free to live life for what it is, and to make the most of his remaining days.

The Importance of the Physical World
The Stranger shows Meursault to be interested far more in the physical aspects of the world around him than in its social or emotional aspects. This focus on the sensate world results from the novel’s assertion that there exists no higher meaning or order to human life. Throughout The Stranger, Meursault’s attention centers on his own body, on his physical relationship with Marie, on the weather, and on other physical elements of his surroundings. For example, the heat during the funeral procession causes Meursault far more pain than the thought of burying his mother. The sun on the beach torments Meursault, and during his trial Meursault even identifies his suffering under the sun as the reason he killed the Arab. The style of Meursault’s narration also reflects his interest in the physical. Though he offers terse, plain descriptions when glossing over emotional or social situations, his descriptions become vivid and ornate when he discusses topics such as nature and the weather.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay


...Existentialism in Grendel - A main theme in John Gardner’s Grendel, is the constant competition of the ideas of meaning in life versus existentialism. Throughout the novel, Grendel makes a steady spiritual decay to the point of denying any value or significance in life itself. He believes the world is nothing more than “a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears”(16). This progression starts at a young age, and through out the twelve years of Grendel’s life, he grows closer to a total commitment to this theory.... [tags: meaning, existentialism, John Gardner] 1307 words (3.7 pages) $19.95 [preview] Existentialism in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis - Existentialism in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis In Franz Kafka’s short story, Metamorphosis, the idea of existentialism is brought out in a subtle, yet definite way. Existentialism is defined as a belief in which an individual is ultimately in charge of placing meaning into their life, and that life alone is meaningless. They do not believe in any sort of ultimate power and focus much of their attention on concepts such as dread, boredom, freedom and nothingness. This philosophical literary movement emerged in the twentieth-century, when Kafka was establishing his writing style in regards to alienation and distorted anxiety.... [tags: Kafka Literature existentialism] 1489 words (4.3 pages) FREE Essays [view] Albert Camus and His Views on Existentialism - Albert Camus is considered......

Words: 3737 - Pages: 15

Premium Essay

The Concept of the Outsider in Literature

...The Concept of the Outsider Literature often persecutes the most vulnerable, a person who lacks support and therefore power within society. Described by Terry Eagleton for The Guardian as the “literary mainstream”; these characters are often referred to as the Outsider due to their exclusion from the community in which the text is set. The characters who are referred to as Outsiders can be portrayed in different ways; their initial exclusion from society can ultimately lead to a narrative of their acquisition of power throughout the text but similarly, can portray a story of their maintenance of the minimal power they have over the course of the text’s plot. However, this is not to argue that some Outsiders presented within literature do not have power over the course of the development of the text so, as a consequence, remain excluded from the society. In this case, the text would then be considered an exposition of the character’s experience from their position in society rather than the author’s attempt of trying to integrate their character into society through their work. Furthermore, the author themselves may be considered an Outsider through their own status in society; they command their readers to be Outsiders themselves within the novel. As well as to read and observe the narrative in order to emulate the same feeling within themselves, within the reader or to have a specific impact on the issues surrounding humanity at the time. The contrast in the ways in which...

Words: 7231 - Pages: 29

Free Essay

Essential Thinkers

... . . . . . . 152 Albert Camus . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Simone de Beauvoir . . . . . 156 The Sceptics Sextus Empiricus . . . . . . . . . . 40 The Idealists The Neoplatonists Plotinus ..................... 42 The Christians St Augustine of Hippo . . . 44 Boethius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 A618C90F-C2C6-4FD6-BDDB-9D35FE504CB3 George Berkeley . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Immanuel Kant . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Johann Schiller . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Frederick Schelling . . . . . . 100 George Hegel . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Arthur Schopenhauer . . . 104 Introduction The Linguistic Turn Gottlob Frege . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Bertrand Russell . . . . . . . . . 160 Ludwig Wittgenstein . . . . 162 Ferdinand de Saussure . . 164 George Edward Moore . . 166 Moritz Schlick . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 Lev Vygotsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 Rudolph Carnap . . . . . . . . . . 172 A. J. Ayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Alfred Tarski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 J. L. Austin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Gilbert Ryle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Noam Chomsky . . . . . . . . . . 182 There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy Hamlet, I.v. W The Postmodernists Claude Levi-Strauss . . . . . 184 Michel Foucault . . . . . . . . . . 186 Jacques Derrida . . . . . . . . . . 188 The New Scientists Emile Durkheim . . . . . . . . . . 190 Albert Einstein . . . . ...

Words: 73655 - Pages: 295

Premium Essay

Feist and Feist the Personality Theories 7th Edition

...Preface I. Introduction Introduction 1. Introduction to Personality Theory II. Psychodynamic Theories Introduction 2. Freud: Psychoanalysis 3. Adler: Individual Psychology 4. Jung: Analytical Psychology 5. Klein: Object Relations Theory 6. Horney: Psychoanalytic Social Theory 7. Fromm: Humanistic Psychoanalysis 8. Sullivan: Interpersonal Theory 9. Erikson: Post−Freudian Theory III. Humanistic/Existential Theories Introduction 10. Maslow: Holistic Dynamic Theory 11. Rogers: Person−Centered Theory 12. May: Existential Psychology IV. Dispositional Theories Introduction 13. Allport: Psychology of the Individual 14. Eysenck, McCrae, and Costa’s Trait and Factor Theories V. Learning Theories Introduction 15. Skinner: Behavioral Analysis 16. Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory 17. Rotter and Mischel: Cognitive Social Learning Theory 18. Kelly: Psychology of Personal Constructs iii Back Matter 581 581 603 619 621 627 References Glossary Photo Credits Name Index Subject Index iv This page intentionally left blank 2 Feist−Feist: Theories of Personality, Seventh Edition Front Matter Preface © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2009 Preface What makes people behave as they do? Are people ordinarily aware of what they are doing, or are their behaviors the result of hidden, unconscious motives? Are some people naturally good and others basically evil? Or do all people have potential to be either good or evil? Is human conduct largely a......

Words: 317863 - Pages: 1272

Free Essay


...process beyond the scope of human control and also to the tendency to appeal to globalization as an explanation for everything. For this reason, discussion around globalization often resolves into a set of unspecific and unquestioned observations: the nation-state is losing power; a new global culture is appearing; there is no alternative to the ‘golden straightjacket’ (Friedman, 1999) of global capitalism, and so on. While it seems to us that the debate around globalization is far from exhausting itself it is just as evident that, at the very least, in popular discussions the discourse of globalization works all-too-often as mystification. Thus, casual use of the term ‘globalization’ frequently substitutes for proper elucidation and critical analysis of a host of complex issues, and in doing so obscures the variety of complex, uneven, and interrelated forces and processes that characterize world interconnectedness. 1 2 Critical Theories of Globalization A central aim of this book is to ‘demystify’ globalization by introducing central issues, unravelling with as much clarity as possible key debates, illustrating with examples, and rubbing competing positions against each other in order to provide an overview of the critical theoretical and substantive field of debate around globalization. This field is, we believe, rich and valuable, illustrating Gregor McLennan’s (2000) argument about an emerging ‘new positivity’ in the social sciences, which seeks to forge a stronger......

Words: 100030 - Pages: 401

Free Essay


...compared to what it was 40 years ago, and what trends relating to it can be expected in the future. Tagore has attracted a good number of quips and sneers over the years, which are routinely trotted out by those who wish to make fun of him. One such quip is Jorge Luis Borges’ comment – referring to the Nobel Prize – that Tagore was a “hoaxer of good faith, or, if you prefer, a Swedish invention”. Another is less well known: If only Tagore Wouldn’t draw! His literary stuff Is tedious enough. Quoted to me many years ago by an uncle who had been in the Indian Civil Service, these lines will be useful to those who wish to pour scorn on the roving exhibition of Tagore’s paintings (December 12 to March 4) in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I myself enjoy these quips when I am in the mood, and I suspect that Tagore would himself have FRONTLINE ( FACI N G P A G E ) R A BI N D R A N ATH February 1931. Tagore in PICTURES: THE HINDU ARCHIVES enhance the understanding of his creative achievements. B Y W I L L I A M R A D I C E JANUARY 13, 2012 FRONTLINE 5 JANUARY 13, 2012 found them amusing. They also carry the bleak truth that for many non-Bengalis there is, with Tagore, a credibility gap. Contributors to commemorative events or volumes are convinced of his greatness, but there is a cold, harsh world outside full of people who are not so convinced. Maybe as an Englishman I have been more acutely aware of this gap......

Words: 77117 - Pages: 309

Premium Essay

The Social

...teenager who smokes cigarettes, stays out late, gets tattooed, or dates a certain boy just because she knows that her parents disapprove. She is not manifesting independence so much as she is displaying anticonformity, not thinking for herself but automatically acting contrary to the desires or expectations of others. On the other hand, I do not intend to suggest that conformity is always adaptive and nonconformity is always maladaptive. There are compelling situations in which conformity can be disastrous and tragic. Moreover, even knowledgeable and sophisticated decision makers can fall prey to special kinds of conformity pressures inherent 16 The Social Animal in making group decisions. Consider the following examples: In his memoirs, Albert Speer, one of Adolf Hitler’s top advisers, describes the circle around Hitler as one of total conformity—deviation was not permitted. In such an atmosphere, even the most barbarous activities seemed reasonable because the absence of dissent, which conveyed the illusion of unanimity, prevented any individual from entertaining the possibility that other options might exist. In normal circumstances people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them. In the Third Reich there were not such correctives. On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world which no longer......

Words: 208005 - Pages: 833

Premium Essay


...Summarizing Longer Arguments 175 Paraphrasing 176 viii Contents Finding Missing Premises and Conclusions 180 Summarizing Extended Arguments 182 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Standardizing Arguments 187 CHAPTER 8 Evaluating Arguments and Truth Claims 195 When Is an Argument a Good One? 195 What “Good Argument” Does Not Mean 195 What “Good Argument” Does Mean 196 When Is It Reasonable to Accept a Premise? 198 Refuting Arguments 203 Appendix: Sample Critical Essay 219 CHAPTER 9 A Little Categorical Logic 225 230 Categorical Statements 225 Translating into Standard Categorical Form Categorical Syllogisms 237 CHAPTER 10 A Little Propositional Logic 252 Conjunction 253 Conjunction and Validity 256 Negation 261 Deeper Analysis of Negation and Conjunction Disjunction 271 Conditional Statements 276 265 CHAPTER 11 Inductive Reasoning 285 Introduction to Induction 285 Inductive Generalizations 286 Evaluating Inductive Generalizations 288 Opinion Polls and Inductive Generalizations 292 Statistical Arguments 296 Reference Class 300 Induction and Analogy 303 What Is an Analogy? 303 How Can We Argue by Analogy? 303 Contents ix Evaluating Arguments from Analogy 305 Arguing by Analogy 312 Induction and Causal Arguments 313 Correlation and Cause 317 A Few Words about Probability 320 A Closer Look at a Priori Probability 322 CHAPTER 12 Finding, Evaluating, and Using Sources 330 Finding Sources 333 Refining Your Search: Questions......

Words: 240232 - Pages: 961

Premium Essay

Writing for Success

...immediately reinforced as soon as it is introduced to keep students on track.  Exercises are designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration. This allows for peerpeer engagement, development of interpersonal skills, and promotion of critical-thinking skills. Saylor URL: 2  Exercises that involve self-editing and collaborative writing are featured. This feature develops and promotes student interest in the knowledge areas and content.  There are clear internal summaries and effective displays of information. This contributes to ease of access to information and increases students’ ability to locate desired content.  Rule explanations are simplified with clear, relevant, and theme-based examples. This feature provides context that will facilitate learning and increase knowledge retention.  There is an obvious structure to the chapter and segment level. This allows for easy adaptation to existing and changing course needs or assessment outcomes. Saylor URL: 3 Chapter 1 Introduction to Writing 1.1 Reading and Writing in College LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. 2. Understand the expectations for reading and writing assignments in college courses. Understand and apply general strategies to complete college-level reading assignments efficiently and effectively. 3. 4. 5. Recognize specific types of writing assignments frequently included in college courses.......

Words: 171477 - Pages: 686

Free Essay

20 Mckenna Transcripts in One Document

...alternative realities, you have some unique perspectives on the UFO phenomenon. I wonder if we could get into that material.McKenna: Yes. Well, the ordinary approach to the UFOs has been to view them as visitors or intruders from a nearby star system that have come in metal ships for reasons of trade or scientific investigation or military conquest --Mishlove: Or missionary activity.McKenna: -- or missionary activity, to the vicinity of our planet. This was a myth that sprang up concomitant with the modern wave of sightings that began shortly after World War II. As time has passed and the number of sightings has gone from hundreds to thousands to hundreds of thousands of instances, as the myth has fleshed itself out with sub-themes -- the theme of abduction, the theme of telepathic contact-- it's become much more difficult to fit all the known facts into the simple model of space-faring visitors from another world. So what we are left with, then, are a number of more exotic competing theories in the so-called postmodern phase of thinking about the UFO. Probably the best known of these alternative explanations was the one pioneered by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who in 1953 wrote a book called Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. Jung was at great pains, without passing judgment on the reality of the saucers, of the things seen, to interpret them psychologically, to interpret them as one would interpret a dream. He saw in their circular form, in......

Words: 451474 - Pages: 1806

Premium Essay

Critical Thinking

...fourth EDItION fourth EDItION This clear, learner-friendly text helps today’s students bridge the gap between Its comprehensiveness allows instructors to tailor the material to their individual teaching styles, resulting in an exceptionally versatile text. Highlights of the Fourth Edition: Additional readings and essays in a new Appendix as well as in Chapters 7 and 8 nearly double the number of readings available for critical analysis and classroom discussion. An online chapter, available on the instructor portion of the book’s Web site, addresses critical reading, a vital skill for success in college and beyond. Visit for a wealth of additional student and instructor resources. Bassham I Irwin Nardone I Wallace New and updated exercises and examples throughout the text allow students to practice and apply what they learn. MD DALIM #1062017 12/13/09 CYAN MAG YELO BLK Chapter 12 features an expanded and reorganized discussion of evaluating Internet sources. Critical Thinking thinking, using real-world examples and a proven step-by-step approach. A student ' s Introduction A student's Introduction everyday culture and critical thinking. It covers all the basics of critical Critical Thinking Ba ssha m I Irwin I Nardone I Wall ace CRITICAL THINKING A STUDENT’S INTRODUCTION FOURTH EDITION Gregory Bassham William Irwin Henry Nardone James M. Wallace King’s College TM bas07437_fm_i-xvi.indd i 11/24/09 9:53:56 AM TM Published by......

Words: 246535 - Pages: 987

Free Essay

Frnch Grammer

...whose singular written form ends in -e without an acute accent are feminine: l'audace daring, la façade the front, the outside, une salade a salad une baie a bay, la haie the hedge Gender 7 une douzaine a dozen, une fontaine a fountain une ambulance an ambulance, une flèche an arrow une thèse a thesis, une grève a strike, etc. une araignée a spider, une bougie a candie, etc. But there are a large number of exceptions to this rule: -isme Nouns ending in -isme are masculine: le romantisme 'romanticism', le tourisme 'tourism', un idiotisme 'an idiom (linguistic)', etc. -ède, -ege, -eme Nouns with these endings are usually masculine: un intermède un cortège un piège un stratège un poème le système le thème an interlude a procession a trap a strategist a poem the system the theme or translation into a foreign language la crème 'cream' is an exception (but see 1.2.4). -age Nouns ending in -age are usually masculine, but there are some notable exceptions: le courage un garage un message un stage un voyage courage a garage a message a work placement a journey Exceptions: une cage a cage, une image a picture, une page a page, une plage a beach, la rage rabies. Other common exceptions: un grade a rank un stade a stadium un groupe le monde le capitaine le domaine le silence un musée un lycée un trophée un génie un incendie un cimetière le derrière un magazine le platine un pare-brise un intervalle le rebelle le chèvrefeuille a group the world the captain the area silence a......

Words: 184852 - Pages: 740

Premium Essay

Arakin 4

...was complete racial [and] religious tolerance." Last year, she acknowledged the part the school had played in shaping her career by giving it a donation of £10,000. The money was part of the David Cohen British Literature Prize, one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards. Dame Muriel received the award for a lifetime's writing achievement, which really began with her most famous novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It was the story of a teacher who encouraged her girls to believe they were the "creme de la creme". Miss Jean Brodie was based on a teacher who had helped Muriel Spark realise her talent. Much of Dame Muriel's writing has been informed by her personal experiences. Catholicism, for instance, has always been a recurring theme in her books — she converted in 1954. Another novel, Loitering with Intent (1981), is set in London just after World War II, when she herself came to live in the capital. How much her writing has been influenced by one part of her life is more difficult to assess. In 1937, at the age of 19, she travelled to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where she married a teacher called Sydney Oswald Spark. The couple had a son, Robin, but the marriage didn't last. In 1944, after spending some time in South Africa, she returned to Britain, and got a job with the Foreign Office in London. Her first novel The Comforters (1957) was written with the help of the writer, Graham Greene. He didn't help with the writing, but instead gave her £20 a month to support......

Words: 117864 - Pages: 472

Free Essay


...airworthy/PTR airy/PRT Aisha/M aisle/DSGM aitch/MS ajar Ajax/M Ajay/M AK aka Akbar/M Akihito/M akimbo Akim/M akin Akita/M Akkad/M Akron/M Aksel/M AL Alabama/M Alabaman/S Alabamian/MS alabaster/MS alack/S alacrity/SM Aladdin/M Alaine/M Alain/M Alair/M Alameda/M Alamogordo/M Alamo/SM ala/MS Ala/MS Alanah/M Alana/M Aland/M Alane/M alanine/M Alan/M Alanna/M Alano/M Alanson/M Alard/M Alaric/M Alar/M alarming/Y alarmist/MS alarm/SDG Alasdair/M Alaska/M Alaskan/S alas/S Alastair/M Alasteir/M Alaster/M Alayne/M albacore/SM alba/M Alba/M Albania/M Albanian/SM Albany/M albatross/SM albedo/M Albee/M albeit Alberich/M Alberik/M Alberio/M Alberta/M Albertan/S Albertina/M Albertine/M Albert/M Alberto/M Albie/M Albigensian Albina/M albinism/SM albino/MS Albion/M Albireo/M alb/MS Albrecht/M albumen/M albumin/MS albuminous album/MNXS Albuquerque/M Alcatraz/M Alcestis/M alchemical alchemist/SM alchemy/MS Alcibiades/M Alcmena/M Alcoa/M alcoholically alcoholic/MS alcoholism/SM alcohol/MS Alcott/M alcove/MSD Alcuin/M Alcyone/M Aldan/M Aldebaran/M aldehyde/M Alden/M Alderamin/M alderman/M aldermen alder/SM alderwoman alderwomen Aldin/M Aldis/M Aldo/M Aldon/M Aldous/M Aldrich/M Aldric/M Aldridge/M Aldrin/M Aldus/M Aldwin/M aleatory Alecia/M Aleck/M Alec/M Aleda/M alee Aleece/M Aleen/M alehouse/MS Aleichem/M Alejandra/M Alejandrina/M Alejandro/M Alejoa/M Aleks......

Words: 113589 - Pages: 455