Critical Review of The Stranger by Albert Camus

Essay by PumaXcntryHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2004

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"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life"

- Albert Camus

Throughout his life Albert believed the world is absurd, without purpose, and leading only onto death. Sunday through Saturday people go through the same motions, repeating the same lives until one day the question of why overcomes us. This causes many in the world to search for an explanation of life. The Absurd refers to this pointless quest for meaning in a universe devoid of purpose. Camus came to the conclusion that there is nothing beyond this world, and we are simply thrown into this existence with the only outcome being death, "since we are all going to die it is obvious the when and how don't matter" (114). Coming to terms with the Absurd is what accounts for the 'strangeness' experienced by every human being with the world.

Thus, the feeling of absurdity is the separation between man and his life. It is this theory of absurdity that Camus successfully elaborates in his novel The Stranger. The novel itself is split into two parts, the first being more of an introduction than the second. It presents the main character Mersault and follows him as he unwittingly gets drawn into a murder while visiting an Algerian beach with his friend Raymond. The second part consists of Mersault's trial and the days leading up to his gruesome execution at the guillotine. A large part of the novel deals with Mersault becoming a stranger in his life. I believe that Camus effectively reveals this aspect of absurdity through the character development of Mersault, point of view in the first person, and a motif of heat. In the end Camus...