Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Outsider

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English- Unit 4

Essay- “The Outsider” By Albert Camus

Topic “ He didnt understand me, and he rather held it against me. I wanted to assure him that I was just like everyone else, exactly like everyone else.”

Is Meursault like everyone else?

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Meursault is like everyone else, exactly like everyone else. He is a highly sensuous character who, like everyone else, has desires, feels pain and feels joy. However, unlike everyone else, he refuses to lie about, when and why he feels such things.

Lying is not only saying what isnt true.

It is...saying more than is true, and in the case of the human heart,

saying more then one feels.

Meursault does not see the importance of doing this for the welfare of society. It is for this very fact society fears him. He threatens to expose reality- the truth, regarding human emotions and instincts. Meursault epitomises the reality of the human character, which society prefers to veil in social graces and patterns of life, all for the sake of the safety and peaceful functioning of society. He is condemned and made an outsider because he doesnt play the game- that which involves posing meaning on ones life through routine, patterns of behaviour or relationships. He appears indifferent and simply refuses to cover up that which makes him exactly like everyone else.

Meursault will not abide by the Fundamental Rules of society, dictating social expectations, in order to avoid the reality of his own sensuality. Due to this, he doesnt live for the future, but instead, for the joy of the moment. This is because living for the future would mean being less occupied with the reality of the present. Most members of society, whether happy with their current positions in life or not, assume the desired pattern of life to be that one must be constantly trying to improve this position. Therefore, society conditions us to be ambitious. Despite being satisfied with their lives however, people do not want to be seen as strange or, as an outsider, so they do what society expects. The result, is a society, which constantly plans for the future. And the epitome of this is the robot woman, who is the antithesis of Meursault. She moves quickly, always anticipating what she will be doing next. Unlike Meursault, she plans for the future and has direction.

She moved in a series of jerks...studied the

menue feverishly...and ordered her whole meal at

once, speaking precisely but rapidly...added up the

bill in advance...

Like many of his fellow society members, Meursault also happens to be quite satisfied with his life situation, but unlike them, he does not do what society expects. He has no ambition and lives in the immediacy of self gratification. An example of this aspect of his character can be observed in his response to his Bosss enquiry regarding his interest in changing his life, following a promotional offer;

...You could never change your life...one life was as good as

another...I wasnt at all dissatisfied with the one I had here.

In not looking to the future, and living in the immediacy of self gratification, Meursault has little to no thought or care for the concequences of his actions and how they may effect others. He thinks purely of how something will effect him. This can be seen when Raymond is beating up his mistress and Marie displays concern, asking Meursault to get a policeman.

She asked me to go fetch a policeman,

but i told her I didnt like policemen.

And for Meursault, it was as simple as that. We see in this, Meursault being unconsidering of the future and what it may hold for the woman being beaten. He thinks only of himself. But then, at first, doesnt everyone? Society doesnt like to think the vast majority of its members could possibly be so selfish. The notion that Meursault is exactly like everyone else, from this aspect is far too threatening. It is this denial that fuels the game, which Meursault refuses to play- the game comprising the social graces and moral codes we follow so that society is a safe and pleasant place in which to function. Meursault does not go by these codes, so exposing the true nature of the human character. This selfish aspect of Meursaults character is exactly like that, which exists in everyone elses character. And he will be decapitated for exposing such a truth. For example, he is judged as having a criminal soul because

...he indulged in the most shameful debauchery on

the day after his mothers death...he was swimming

in the sea, entering into an irregular liaison and

laughing at a Fernandel film.

; little relevance is given to the fact that he has killed a man, which seems to be of more importance in a murder trial. While Meursault is exactly like everyone else internally, his external is not a veil of morals and social graces saying he should cry at his mothers funeral and follow a certain pattern of behaviour one is expected to, according to social expectations, when mourning a loved one.

...is he being accused of burying his mother

or of killing a man?

It seems that what Meursault threatens to expose about the reality of human nature, is more threatening than a murderer. Those judging him would never accept that, behind a cover of social graces, they are exactly like him.

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