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Stranger Of Camus Essay Research Paper In

Stranger Of Camus Essay, Research Paper

In The Stranger, as in all Camus? works, Camus? views on freedom and death

? one dependent on the other ? are major themes. For Camus, freedom arises

in awareness of one?s life, the every-moment life, an intense glorious life

that needs no redeeming, no regrets, no tears. Death is unjustifiable, absurd;

it is but a reintegration into the cosmos for a ?free? man. Until a person

reaches this awareness, life, like death, is absurd, and indeed, generically,

life remains absurd, though each individual?s life can be valuable and

meaningful to him. In a sense, The Stranger is a parable of Camus? philosophy,

with emphasis on that which is required for freedom. Meursault, hero of The

Stranger, is not a person one would be apt to meet in reality in this respect;

Meursault does not achieve the awakening of consciousness, so essential to

freedom and to living Camus? philosophy until the very end of the book, yet he

has lived his entire life in according with the morality of Camus? philosophy.

His equivalent in the Christian philosophy would be an irreligious person whose

homeland has never encountered Christianity who, upon having it explained by a

missionary, realizes he has never sinned. What is the morality, the qualities

necessary for freedom, which Meursault manifested? First, the ruling trait of

his character is his passion for the absolute truth. While in Meursault this

takes the form of a truth of being and feeling, it is still the truth necessary

to the conquest of the self or of the world. This passion is so profound that it

obtains even when denying it might save his life. Second, and not unrelated to

the first, is Meursault?s acceptance of nature as what it is and nothing more,

his rejection of the supernatural, including any god. Actually, ?rejection?

of God is not accurate until later when he is challenged to accept the concept;

Meursault simply has never considered God and religion worthwhile pursuing. The

natural makes sense; the supernatural doesn?t. It follows that death to

Meursault also is what it is naturally; the end of life, cessation, and that is

all. Third, and logically following, Meursault lives entirely in the present.

The past is past and dwelling upon it in any mood is simply a waste of the

present. As to the future, the ultimate future is death; to sacrifice the

present to the future is equivalent to sacrificing life to death. Finally and

obviously, since the present is his sole milieu, Meursault takes note of each

moment of life; since there is no outside value system, no complex future plan,

to measure against, and as a result of his passion for truth and consequently

justice, he grants every moment equal importance. One moment may be more

pleasurable than another, one boring, one mundane, each receives ?equal

time? in his narration of his life. Meursault has one failing trait, a direct

and logical result of his unconsciousness of his own view of life and philosophy

of living, indifference. Perhaps because his way of life and thinking seem so

natural to him, he has never considered their roots, has never confronted the

absurdity of death, with the consequent recognition of the value of his life.

Out of indifference he fails to question and thereby errs out of indifference he

links forces with violence and death, rather than with love and life. As a

result of indifference, he kills a man. Meursault kills a man and is brought to

trial. But in truth he is not tried for murder, nor for his error, he is tried

for his virtue. Here Camus shows how many men fear the absurd, refuse ? not to

accept it ? to confront it at all. Instead they make compromises with it,

grant it importance and supernatural meaning, and live for it. The result is

lives built on sham, hypocrisy, paper scaffolding. The natural man, the man of

truth and reality, can only threaten their authority, the very fragile web of

their lives, that is, his very existence may force them to see through

themselves. It is for this that they condemn Meursault to death. Faced with the

guillotine, Meursault is forced to confront death, his own death. Through the

horror and desperation, he discovers absurdity, the inevitability and injustice

of death, the meaninglessness of it, the unimportance. All this has been

implicit in Meursault. Now it is conscious. Now Meursault is on the verge of

true freedom. The intrusion into his cell of the prison chaplain precipitates

Meursault?s achievement of total freedom. By the time the chaplain enters,

Meursault has confronted death, and is aware of its universal inevitability and

of its meaninglessness. In the face of the chaplain?s incessant attempt to

push on Meursault, his God, his guilt, his hypocrisy, Meursault finally revolts

? against the chaplain, against hypocrisy, against death. In an instant,

?all thoughts that had been simmering in my brain? explode into

consciousness and Meursault is finally aware. At last fully conscious of

himself, of death, and of his life, Meursault can measure fully the values

present at every moment of life. Time, always the present to him, now in

awareness becomes a miraculous present, rich in beauty, friendship, and love. He

feels the ?absurd? and simultaneously his innocence. Knowing now the

indifference of the universe, facing death full of love of life, full of the joy

of knowing that he had been happy and is happy still. Meursault understands that

the guillotine provides his ultimate justification; for in death alone man

accomplishes his human destiny. If we consider The Stranger as a parable, its

lesson is evident, Cling passionately to life as the only positive value

existing in a form we can recognize. As soon as we rebel and protest against the

absurd, we become in full possession of the life here and now that is ours, that

is the only one we have. It is a ?gospel of happiness.? For the revolt

against the absurd so central to Camus? concepts of freedom and life is no

hopeless struggle, no flailing at windmills. Camus? revolt seeks no hope, no

reward, but to prove human splendor.