Is Marie a Foil or Just Woman?

I found the character Marie to be very interesting throughout the first part of The Stranger. She is a woman who comes into Meursault’s life at first through a purely physical connection, but they seem to spend more and more time together.

So far, I have been unable to figure out the purpose of her character. At times I have thought she was a possible foil for Meursault. Marie seems to exude emotion and joy at all times. She is consistently described as “laughing” after almost anything Meursault says. Furthermore, she seems to be the ultra emotional to his emotionless, even asking Meursault if he wants to “marry her” or if he “loved her” after only a few days together. This all could support the argument that Marie’s character is there to remind us just how apathetic Meursault is through her exuberance and overflowing feelings.

That being said, The Stranger was also written in the 1940’s, a time when most women were considered overly emotional and irrational. I think it is especially important to note that this book was written by a man and through the perspective of a man, so as an audience we are seeing Marie through a “double” male gaze. Thus, when reading I found myself wondering if the character of Marie was trying to comment on Meursault’s personality, or if she was just a representation of what men thought women were at the time.

2 thoughts on “Is Marie a Foil or Just Woman?

  1. Frankie K.

    This is a really in depth and thoughtful analysis of Marie’s role in this story. I strongly agree that Marie’s character is at least partially present to demonstrate how apathetic Meursault is to events around him. I think she is used also to critique empty headed enthusiasm (as many many many women are used to do in classic novels) or ignorant optimism.

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  2. VAN T.

    I liked how you brought your more modern take on Marie’s character dynamic to compare with how Albert Camus must’ve intended her character to be due to the social climate in the 1940’s. I also thought that the structure of Marie’s character in relation to Meursault was a little confusing, knowing how women have been used, in the past, to enhance or provide more identity for their make male counterparts.

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