Existentialist Darwism and Neo-isolationist Rejection in Camus' "The Stranger"

Essay by Anthony CreedCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1997

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An enlightening, introspective analysis of Existentialism as a philosophy and as an integral component of Camus' literary genre. WOW!

Camus's The Stranger is a grim profession that choice and individual freedom are

integral components of human nature, and the commitment and responsibility that accompany

these elements are ultimately the deciding factors of the morality of one's existence. Meursault

is placed in an indifferent world, a world that embraces absurdity and persecutes reason; such is

the nature of existentialist belief, that rationalization and logic are ultimately the essence of

humanity, and that societal premonitions and an irrelevant status quo serve only to perpetuate a

false sense of truth.

Meursault's virtue, as well as his undoing, lies in his unique tendency to choose, and

thereby exist, without computing objective standards or universal sentiment. His stoic, de facto

existentialism is a catalyst for endless conflict between his rationalization- and logic-based

existence and that of others, which focuses on an objective subscription to 'the norm' ; such is

evident in heated discussions with the magistrate and prison minister, who are seen as paragons

of invalid logic and the quixotic, quasi-passionate pursuit of hackneyed conformity.

No windmills are slain1 in this simulated existence; absurdity of a different ilk dominates

the popular mentality, one which would alienate a man based on his perceived indifference

towards the mundane, and try, convict, and execute a man based on his lack of purported

empathy towards the irrelevant. Attention to the trial sequence will reveal that the key elements

of the conviction had little to do with the actual crime Meursault had committed, but rather the

'unspeakable atrocities' he had committed while in mourning of his mother's death, which

consisted of smoking a cigarette, drinking a cup of coffee, and failing to cry or appear sufficiently

distraught. Indeed, the...