"The Outsider" by Albert Camus.

Essay by sirmahilHigh School, 12th gradeA-, June 2003

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Oppression of the individual by society is a key theme in the novel, The Outsider , by Albert Camus. As the novel progresses Camus uses a number of techniques and devices to develop this theme. Camus achieves this through the use of imagery, symbols and strong characterisation that emphasise the social interaction of, Meursault with a judgmental and stereotyping society.

Characterisation is the key area in which Camus develops the theme of oppression of the individual by society. Through the course of the novel figures arise and dominate and repress the individuality of Meursault and to a lesser extent his associate Raymond. The first such instance of this occurs during Raymond's altercation with a Police Officer in chapter four (Part One). The police officer is portrayed as a physically aggressive, tough talking figure who refutes individuality or the expression of free speech. The fact that the police officer represents a figure of authority and therefore society as a whole adds to the theme of oppression.

Later in the novel is the examining magistrate with whom Meursault interacts prior to his trial. Although the magistrate emerges initially as a upbeat figure he becomes somewhat disturbed by Meursault's individuality. Contrary to this friendly figure, Camus instead gives hints as to the domineering creature which lies beneath. "while he himself remained in the shadows". His full nature is exposed when Meursault refuses to accept the offer of redemption by the magistrate, during the first moments of their introduction, through Christ. The magistrate becomes nervous and abrupt and he is slightly angered and bewildered by Meursaults position. Like the police officer his characterisation is important as it can be defined as a viewpoint of common society, and thus the oppression of the individual.

Meursault's interaction with society is a technique that Camus uses...