Existentialism is the concept of individual freedom, choice, and control over one’s destiny. In The Stranger, Meursault remains an amoral character. He doesn’t display strong feelings toward anything. This behavior separates Meursault from the existentialist because they have an interest in ethics and morality. Existentialists do not believe that morality and belief systems are required. However, many existentialist still choose to develop their moral compass and exercise it through freedom and choice. Meursault doesn’t seem to be interested in “correctness” at all. Whether it is society’s rule or his own opinions, Meursault doesn’t care. He is like an inanimate leaf floating through life on a gust of wind. His lack of choice represents the opposite approach that many early existentialists advocated. In part 1 of the novel, Meursault is the result of simply living to stay alive and responding to any immediate discomfort. To the reader, he appears lost, causing us to consider what gives us purpose? An existentialist would say that Meursault’s life matters because he has it, but would Meursault agree?
One thought on “Is Meursault an existentialist?”
I totally agree with Meursault being an existentialist as he doesn’t follow the “social norms” society has engraved upon humans. He believes what makes one normal is the perspective they’ve been given throughout experiences life brings upon us as humans. Mersault is not one to care about much, and this makes people compare him to devil as to some, his existentialism makes him inhumane. Many of his aspects and actions are strange, and this leaves many people to question what he’s about. Considering how he behaves, I would consider Mersault to be an existentialist as he does what he wants and doesn’t care about what others think.