Capture vs Freedom in The Stranger

In Albert Camus famous novel, The Stranger, the idea that life is meaningless is revealed through the attitudes of the narrator, Meursault. Halfway through the novel, I was convinced Meursault’s random behavior had to do with him being a unique and free individual. It was not until Meursault went to jail that I realized he had been trapped all along. While at his mother’s funeral, Meursault displays himself as cold and emotionless. For example, he describes the funeral as something concrete and not emotional, he also demonstrates this when he falls asleep in his chair during the wake. This response is perceived as odd by others around him who expect Meursault to be grieving the loss of his mother. Meursault expresses feeling judged by his mother’s friends on page 10 saying, “for a second I had the ridiculous feeling that they were there to judge me”. When first reading this quote, I was unaware of its significance to the story. It was not until part two, during the trial, that I realized Meursault had been foreshadowing events of the trial all along. When witnesses were called, the director, the caretaker and Perez, all who were present at the funeral, gave testimonies about Meursault’s behavior. They describe how he had not cried or paid his respects, and bring up that he slept during the wake. While listening to the witness statements, Meursault describes a sudden urge to cry. This is because at this moment he began to realize he was guilty. Meursault’s attitudes and behaviors throughout the novel paint him as a free, senseless individual but below the surfaced he remained captured. After Meursault is found guilty, he has a final conversation with the chaplain. This conversation helps Meursault accept his fate and he is finally able to let go of the life he had lived before. As he begins to see life and death as equal possibilities, his indifferent attitude switches. Therefore by coming to terms with death and embracing his fate Meursault is finally free.

for the first time in years I had this stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me

pg. 90

“II. Zealots Of Stockholm” – The Existentialist Theme Song

Heathen, it's a struggle just to keep breathing
“II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)” by Childish Gambino

By definition, existentialism is defined a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. While we’ve explored the lot of existentialist ideals worked into our readings of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, I believe one of the most profound pieces of existentialist media is Donald Glovers “Because The Internet”, specifically his song titled “II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information). The overall story of the song follows Glovers relationships with his parents which evolves into the overall questioning of life and death. Throughout the song many lines allude to the overall existential meaning of the song, such as the final line of the first verse reading “F*ck him, I just really wanna feel something,” making reference to a girl pursuing her own individuality through cheating on her significant other for satisfaction. While I won’t cite the lines in full due to their explicit nature, it’s worth highlighting Glover’s notes of existentialist ideals throughout the rest of the track. During the second verse, Glover makes reference to the un-importance of sexual relationships being heavily romantic, the human race being in a constant race to achieve artificial power, as well as the fragility and insignificance of the human life. While Glover is known for plenty works displaying commentary on the worlds issues through music and film, some of his work being categorized as that of the theater of the absurd/existentialist type deserves more exploration and further attention in the media.

Marriage in The Stranger and Trust

The main characters Meursault in The Stranger, and Matthew and Maria in the movie Trust (1990), are all prototypes for the Absurdist hero. All of them live as misfits, ignoring social norms and expectations. This is especially evident in their regard for marriage. While Meursault was willing to marry Marie even though he admitted to her on multiple occasions that he did not love her, he did so with emotional involvement of deciding what to eat for dinner. Not once did he question or wrestle with the idea of marriage; he was okay with it if it was something Marie wanted. He certainly didn’t see marriage as a life-changing decision that needed any deep thought.

Similarly in the movie Trust, Maria was willing to marry her boyfriend more out of convenience due to her pregnancy than any true love for him. She sees him more as a stable provider as he will probably work for his father’s business and have a stable income. When he dumps her, she’s not upset and doesn’t express any real love for him. Matthew too has a strange view of marriage as he offers to marry Maria and raise her baby while only knowing her mostly as a friend and for a short time. None of them take marriage seriously. Although I guess this fits with the Absurdist view that nothing really matters in the end, including marriage.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

In both The Stranger by Albert Camus and the movie Trust (1990), the characters seem unaffected by the norms of the world around them. Meursault of the former appears to be detached and unconcerned with the happenings of society, and the actors in the latter portray their characters with deadpan expressions and unrealistic dialogue. As both of these pieces of media are commentaries on the restrictions of societal norms, the unrealistic and often unemotional appearance of the characters amplifies the social mores that are being critiqued.

In The Stranger, Meursault does not value the things that society tells him to value. The character of the people he surrounds himself with does not concern him, nor does the expectation that one should cry at one’s mother’s funeral. He does not follow the widely accepted way of living and does not care about what people think others should care about. His seeming indifference to the world is received harshly by his peers. During his court case, he is persecuted mostly for the abnormal way in which he acts. Through the harsh contrast between Meursault’s unemotional and uncaring nature and society’s (as shown through the jury) expectations of others, we see the ridiculous nature of imposed societal norms.

In Trust, the actors deliver their lines in a way that is lacking emotion that may make viewers cringe. This muted unrealistic performance of some is matched by heightened unrealistic performance of others in the film. The absurd behavioral patterns of Michael’s father and Maria’s mother compared to Michael and Maria’s subdued and abnormal approach to the world illuminates the strangeness of societal patterns and norms.

Misogyny in The Stranger and Trust (1990)

Both pieces of media, The Stranger and Trust (1990), center around men, these being Mersault and Matthew. These men both have love interests, the love interests being Marie and Maria, with Maria being more of the main character. My main issue is with Marie from the novel The Stranger. In the book, Marie is never a fleshed-out character, despite being an important character for the events within the novel. 

Marie is seen as merely an extension of Mersault, not as a unique individual. Furthermore, most descriptions of Marie are when he is having sex with her or thinking about having sex with her, illustrating that Mersault likely just sees her as a sex object. 

Trust is different in that regard, with Maria being a more fleshed-out character. However, Maria is also an extension of the male main character, albeit in a more subtle way. Maria’s development centers around Matthew, constantly trying to prove to him how smart and mature. Even conflicts with her mother heavily center around men in the story, that being her dad, her (ex) boyfriend, and Matthew. Matthew, on the other hand, has his character development rely not only on Maria but also on the events of his job and conflicts with his father.
 

In the end, Trust  is not a movie that criticizes the misogynistic troupes, leading to said troupes not being challenged and an overall misogynistic mi

Marie is Happy too

Albert Camus’ The Stranger exhibits the way that societal expectations serve to uphold a system in which everyone’s aim is to reach an ideal and is, therefore, never satisfied. These ideals are merely constructs, however; irrational and absurd. Camus asserts that the only way to truly seek happiness is to avoid seeking control over what is random and to embrace one’s agency to determine their own fate. 

Of the characters through which Camus demonstrates the theme of his novel, Marie acts as somewhat of a contradiction. She chooses to follow societal norms, unlike characters like Meursault and Salamano, who are disconnected from judgment and expectations. Marie illustrates what is expected of a romantic relationship when she asks Meursault if he wishes to marry her (41). The motivation behind this as well as her subsequent questioning of whether he loves her seems to be because Marie assumes this is what should happen in a romantic relationship like theirs. The widely accepted image of love that she embodies merely serves to establish a need for perfection in the construction of an expected passion for romance.

Despite striving to follow in the image of society, Marie is the most joyful character in the novel. This is in part because of her naivety, but also because she is the most open-minded and accepting. When Meursault responds to her question, he is contradictingly dispassionate. Marie is not upset by this, but comes to understand Meursault’s seemingly shallow view of her. While one might argue that this only proves her naivety, it also allows her to fully enjoy her relationship with Meursault because she is not overly attached to any one idea or expectation.

Perspective in The Stranger

One of Camus’ central arguments is that perspective towards events in one’s life determines the meaning one receives from life. Examples of different perspectives are shown throughout the story.

Marie eventually asks Meursault if he wants to marry her and he responded that  “it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” (p.41). Meursault’s perspective toward his and Marie’s relationship is indifferent. Meursault is not affected by a proposal of marriage; he is not affected in life at all. Futhermore, when asked if he felt any sadness the day of his mother’s funeral, “I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything” (p.65). Meursault didn’t feel anything after his mother’s death. His indifferent perspective causes him to feel nothing in life, he receives no meaning from the happiness of marriage or death of a loved one. Camus brings to light an important question for us all to examine in our own life: how does our own perspective contribute to the way we feel and experience life?

The exact moment Meursault finds happiness.

“And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again” (122).

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the main character, Meursault rejects the traditional societal structures that many people value. For example, he doesn’t want to marry his girlfriend, Marie, he doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral, and he doesn’t believe in God. Meursault believes these relationships create false hope for people that death isn’t certain. People don’t want to face the meaninglessness of death and death itself, so they grasp onto these societal structures to escape it.

In the last chapter of the novel, Meursault rises above these societal structures and realizes the indifference of the world. After waiting in his prison cell, hoping for the appeal to his eviction to come back positively, Meursault finally grasps the certainty and reality of death. “Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned too” (121). No matter what anyone did in their lives, they were all elected to the same fate. During their lives, people are never satisfied because they always try to reach greater success.

Through Meursault, Albert Camus argues that one isn’t truly happy until they face the certainty of their death. They can live their lives with meaning once they accept their inevitable fate. In The Stranger, once Meursault accepts his appeal will never come back positive, he spends every waking hour appreciating his last days. The guards were going to take him away to be exiled at night, so he takes peace when dawn comes around knowing that he will live another day.

Once Meursault accepts death, he finds happiness.

Camus’ Theory Applied to Us

Tre B

The Stranger gives us a very unusual perspective on an idea most people think they know the answer to, but according to Meursault and Camus they are doing everything wrong. The idea in question is the answer to life or what is the purpose of existing. To most people things like sports, music, cooking, and family are reason enough to live for because they enjoy having it in their life. Camus’ theory would only work if you were the only person livng on earth because you have no one else to interact with, but because there’s more than one person on earth social interactions and problem will occur no matter what. This means that lifes true purpose isn’t just to feel existence itself and do nothing but take what life gave you and make yourself and those around you the happiest for the time we have to live. If all you did was focus on the future then you would never live in the moment for which you truly said you wanted too. Just because death is inevitable doesn’t mean you should throw away the people or things you that gave you joy even if it’s not forever.

The Sun in the Stranger

Why did Meursault kill the Arab? When asked in court, he responds with “the sun”. The sun is a constant, always shining and moving through cycles of day and night. There is no moral meaning behind why the sun continues to exist, it simply does like how Meursault simply exists in life without meaning.

Throughout the book, the sun causes Meursault problems. He feels sleepy and slow in the sun. His tiredness played a major role in his life after his mother’s death and got in the way as he faced the Arab with the gun. The sun seems to become important in his life at times when he should be feeling social pressure. During his mother’s funeral, the sun is very strong and Meursault describes its heat as “inhuman and oppressive”, similar to how someone might describe society’s pressure on others to fit in. At another turning point in his life, the sun is overpowering as they search for the Arabs and glints off the gun as he takes it from Raymond. The brightness of it makes his head ring and clouds his mind enough that he tenses his hand at the reflection of the sun in the Arab’s knife and shoots at him. This then condemns Meursault to a death for a crime that he never actively decided to, or not to, commit.

Also, during his trial, Meursault describes the sun as “glaring” outside, similar to how the large majority of people in the courtroom dislike him. The author could be trying to connect the sun, which is simple and constant, to the absurd meaning humans place on how life is supposed to be lived. There is a push for people his age to fall in love and get married and he sees Marie’s face as “as bright as the sun”. Seeing Marie as similar to the sun could represent how he sees other married families and feels he should be doing that with Marie, even though she is replaceable to him. During his time in jail, Meursault struggles with the idea that a new dawn will come when he will be executed. After his meeting with the god person and coming to the realization that life is meaningless and bound to end anyways, Meursault lets go of any of his ideals that conformed to the pressure of society. Society sent him to death because he didn’t cry at his mother’s funeral and shot someone, both times when the sun interfered with him. He is no longer afraid for the sun to rise and signal his death at the end of the book.

The Stranger and the Hypocrisy of Capital Punishment

Within the novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus, the reader is transported to 1940s Algiers to witness the crime and eventual death sentence of its main character, Meursault, who murders a man after he had attacked him and two friends. While the book very intriguingly focuses on existentialism through Meursaults failure to conform to society and the true happiness that is awarded to him because of this lack of conformity, there is another social commentary within the book that may easily be overshadowed by this analysis of existence itself.

Throughout the second part of The Stranger a secondary discussion may begin to reveal itself to the reader. That is: whether or not capital punishment is morally permissible. Rather interestingly, this topic is not brought up in any way by Meursault or anybody else within the story. Instead, Camus rather interestingly inserts bits of information throughout Meursault’s trial that, when viewed together, combine into clear hypocrisy. Halfway through Meuraults trial, after the prosecutor has spoken, Camus writes, “Before hearing from my lawyer [the judge] would be happy to have me state precisely the motives for my actions. Fumbling a little with my words and realizing how ridiculous I sounded, I blurted out that it was because of the sun. People laughed. My lawyer threw up his hands, and immediately after that he was given the floor.” Additionally, while listening to his lawyer speak about the events leading up to and during the murder, Meursault thinks to himself, “I was assailed by memories of a life that wasn’t mine anymore… the jury would not send an honest, working man to his death because he had lost control of himself for one moment”(103-4). Meursault’s claim about shooting the man because of the sun is immediately written off by not only the judge and prosecutor but even his lawyer. It is viewed as so absurd that it sparks laughter in the court and he is immediately told to sit back and not say anything else. The court, and society as a whole, clearly hold murder up as a major crime and believe that someone who commits it must have an equally major reason behind it. This is why his lawyer spins this crime into the result of a violent, vengeful outburst from Meursault over the harm of a friend. Even after it is signaled that this reasoning is believed by the jury, Meursault is still convicted and sentenced to death.

This raises the question– if murder is still viewed as immoral, even when it is done as a result of a crime that the victim committed, why then, is capital punishment perceived as moral? This is where Camus displays the greatest example of hypocrisy relating to the topic. Meursault’s committing a “vengeful” murder is illegal and results in him receiving the death penalty, effectively government-approved, vengeful murder. A lone type of murder that is totally legal. Since it is established that murder, even out of revenge, is morally reprehensible, it would only make sense for capital punishment to be viewed in the same way.

The Murderer and the Priest: Meursault and Chesterton

"But I was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me. I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another ... Couldn't he, couldn't this condemned man see...And that from somewhere deep in my future...All the shouting had me gasping for air. But they were already tearing the chaplain from my grip and the guards were threatening me. He calmed them, though, and looked at me for a moment without saying anything. His eyes were full of tears. Then he turned and disappeared." (122, Camus, The Stranger)
"Then when this kindly world all round the man has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother's face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, 'He believes in himself.'" (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

G.K. Chesterton was a British Catholic author and social commentator in the early 20th century. I finished reading Orthodoxy by Chesterton a while ago, and found what he said, even though it was written long before the rise of existentialism to the mainstream, to be applicable to a lot of the themes in The Stranger. The egoist philosophers who Chesterton criticizes, who believe in nothing but themselves, are strikingly similar to the existential philosophers who reject all systems of life but their own, especially including Meursault, of The Stranger, and may even be defined in the same statement.

"For the sake of simplicity, it is easier to state the notion by saying that a man can believe that he is always in a dream. Now, obviously there can be no positive proof given to him that he is not in a dream, for the simple reason that no proof can be offered that might not be offered in a dream. But if the man began to burn down London and say that his housekeeper would soon call him to breakfast, we should take him and put him with other logicians in a place which has often been alluded to in the course of this chapter [the insane asylum]. The man who cannot believe his senses [the egoist], and the man who cannot believe anything else [the materialist], are both insane, but their insanity is proved not by any error in their argument, but by the manifest mistake of their whole lives. They have both locked themselves up in two boxes, painted inside with the sun and stars; they are both unable to get out, the one into the health and happiness of heaven, the other even into the health and happiness of the earth. Their position is quite reasonable; nay, in a sense it is infinitely reasonable, just as a threepenny bit is infinitely circular. ...When [these philosophers] wish to represent eternity, they represent it by a serpent with his tail in his mouth. There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal. The eternity of the material fatalists, the eternity of the eastern pessimists, the eternity of the supercilious theosophists and higher scientists of to-day is, indeed, very well presented by a serpent eating his tail, a degraded animal who destroys even himself." (Orthodoxy)

The main argument against this view is of course that there is a vast difference between the egoist and the existentialist, which is true, at least from a sympathetic perspective, but it could certainly be argued that both philosophies view the world in a similar, or at least comparable way. Chesterton’s criticism applies to both, since both philosophies essentially reject all counter-arguments by saying they don’t matter or don’t actually exist. They cannot be reasonably disproven, but this does not mean that they are correct.

I ended up putting the two pieces (The Stranger and Orthodoxy) together after reading the man referring to Meursault as the antichrist, and especially during the climactic final pages with his interaction with the priest, because it contrasts the vastly different realities these two men lived in, and how they were almost like oil and water to each other. For me, the priest seemed to be the human living his life with care and compassion, and Meursault living like a dead man, as if nothing mattered, so it struck me when Meursault himself saw the exact opposite. I don’t mean to push a religious message here, only that it seems like most human beings can probably see Meursault as the antithesis to humanity, if they look hard enough. Since he lives without emotion, morality, or any other basic human connection to reality.

Does The Stranger Covery True Happiness

In life people believe that happiness is from aspects of life like love, family, and being successful. But in life the real things that exist are pain and suffering which creates these other aspects like love and family. Although the aspects of life create a shadow over the real things that exist in the world. And because of this achieving true happiness is much more difficult than understand how it works. Because one of the ways to achieve true happiness is understanding one’s life and what they are made to do in the world. But also being able to be contempt with themselves and how they live in this world which is a very terrible one to live in because of the hardships. So being able to do these things and make this realization creates one true happiness.

In The Stranger by Albert Camus he portrays the main character Meursault as someone with no feelings and is a weird individual. In the beginning of the story Meursault’s mother dies and he has a hard time dealing with it, but does not feel remorse in the moment or even later in the story until the end. When he makes his realization that the world is a cruel place and his feelings about certain aspects of life are more twisted than what one would expect from a “normal person”. Through the story there are different aspects of life that are made in different ways but are fully developed through the pain and suffering in life which are the main aspects of how life is lived and figuring that aspect out is how to achieve happiness in the accursed world. Towards the end of the story he makes a realization that the death penalty is what he deserved and what his position is in the world and what his purpose was in this world. Because he died happy understanding the his life and how the world works and how his life played out and his fate was set and his realization allowed him to achieve true happiness.

This explains how The Stranger expresses true happiness and how when the main character Meursault finally achieves true happiness because he makes the realization of his life and his purpose in this life. Once he made the realization of the pain and suffering that this world brings on people he lived in. He was able to understand his purpose and what his life played out for him. Which allowed him to die happy because of the way he was able to understand the true aspects of life.

Is Maria from Trust an Existentialist?

The movie Trust follows a teenage girl, Maria, after she is thrown out of her house. In the story, she meets a man named Matthew Slaughter and starts to dress and act differently. The two of them begin a relationship that would be considered pedophilia because Matthew is in his thirties while Maria is only seventeen. Putting that aside, the movie presents themes of existentialism. However, it is a little unclear whether or not Maria would be considered an existentialist.

In the book The Stranger, we get the perfect existentialist character, Meursault. He doesn’t let social constructs weigh him down and enjoys all of life by living in the moment. At the beginning of Trust, it is pretty clear that Maria would not be considered an existentialist. She is concerned with style, makeup, and love. She intends to marry her football player boyfriend, who got her pregnant. It is presented that she wants nothing more than to be married in life. However, when she meets Matthew, her appearance and priorities change. While some may consider this as her becoming an outsider to society, I don’t think her changing is specifically because she’s becoming an existentialist. Matthew is the one to provide her with new wardrobe and glasses. Even though with the new attire she would be considered an outsider, because Matthew told her to wear it would not necessarily be an existentialist move. Also, at one point in the movie, she asks Matthew if he loves her. He tells her that he admires and respects her, but does not think that mean love. Maria is still concerned with love and trying to find someone who will take a romantic interest in her. If that is something that she is actively working for in life, she would not be considered an existentialist.

All in all, I believe Mattew would be considered an existentialist, but by forcing that way on Maria, she would not be an existentialist. Exitentialism is a idea that one developes naturally. By forcing these ideas on Maria, she would not be an existentialist.

Is Meursault truly happy?

In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger Meursault the main character thinks vastly different than the average person in society does. He does not value relationships, emotions and bonds the same most of us do. He doesn’t put as much meaning in relationships and lives his life without trying to create them. We see this with Marie who wants to further her relationship with Meursault while he does not want what he thinks are pointless ideas of love and marriage. While there are good parts of his way of life like him being able to live in the moment and cope with difficult situations there are downsides to his ideology.

To many outsiders like those at the funeral and pastor at jail he seems sociopathic. He is apathetic to almost everything, has littler motivation and drive and does not connect with others.

I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone” (123).

If one has to question if ones is happy and only says yes so, they feel less alone, are they happy? I don’t believe that Meursault is happy, and he realized in prison he truly isn’t but as to not admit his life was wasted, he claims he was. He just simply lived one day to the next hardly striving for anything and didn’t have anyone. While some may claim that these ideas are concepts to most, they do bring true happiness. Most people would not be happy if they were in Meursault’s position, and I believe Meursault was not either

The Theme of The Stranger and Real Life

I think that the theme of The Stranger is that although the rejection of society’s values can be very detrimental to the survival and success of an individual, by rejecting cultural values we are given the opportunity to create our own values, and in so doing impose order on an absurd world and achieve true fulfillment. This is shown various times throughout the novel. Meursault, through his breach of his society’s command to not murder, puts his own values and desires above those of his society and is imprisoned and set to be executed. However, he accepts this as a necessary consequence of his actions by accepting his execution and time in prison. And he decides that, even though he has died because of it, he is happy that follows his own values and rejects the chaplain’s attempt to impose values on him.

This is all well and good, but how should we apply this insight into real life? I think we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath-water; that is, I don’t think that we should reject all cultural values; or even that creating our own values is the only way to achieve true fulfillment. My parents, for example, have followed societal values, but they’re fulfilled (I think). Rather, I think life is better lived when we just question our values. We don’t have to copy Meursault and ignore all societal values, but we should emulate his questioning of the daily values we take for granted.

The Handmaid’s Tale and The Stranger Comparison

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, central ideas are shared with Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger. In her novel, Atwood depicts a totalitarian society in what was the United States, where women are property of the state and their sole purpose is to procreate.

While their plot, characters, and messages are different, both The Handmaid’s tale and The Stranger illustrate individuals who are given the illusion of autonomy when in reality they have none. Atwood illustrates this through the main character, Offred, stripped of her own name, who, throughout the novel, was given opportunities of normalcy in her secret meetings with the Commander, visits to the brothel, and relations with Nick. While these midnight rendezvous feel like a breath of fresh air to Offred, it is simply a step up from her normal oppression. In the authority allowing her to “rebel” in small, controlled manners subconsciously discourages Offred from going entirely against the system.

This false autonomy is similarly present in the Stranger in the characters’ mirage of distractions that bring meaning to their lives, such as family, religion, and love. Characters are under the impression that they have total control over their lives and their sources of meaning, but it becomes completely absolved in Mersault’s narration. While they have the freedom to choose, for the most part, what they spend their time doing, they have no choice or say in the inevitable end of their lives.

Women in The Stranger and Trust

Women in The Stranger are typically being acted upon instead of making their own decisions. The main character is Meursault, a man who views love and relationships as insignificant. Because of this, women are repeatedly portrayed in negative lights. Raymond’s mistress is painted as a cheater and weak because she is repeatedly abused by him. Women and dogs are repeatedly paralleled in the text, suggesting to readers that they are seen as less human than their male counterparts.

In the movie Trust, a woman, Maria is the main character. Most of the scenes center around her and the experiences she has over the course of the movie. She begins the movie in a “Stranger” sort of portrayal. A promiscuous unmarried, pregnant woman who has been rejected and ostracized from everyone in her life. However over the course of the movie she starts to make more choices that make her a more well rounded character. She takes it upon herself to change her lifestyle, become more educated, and more independent. Trust shows that women are able to break out of the binary Camus introduces in The Stranger and participate in a world where they have more agency.

The Myth of Meursault

Camus’ argument about Sisyphus is about the existential outlook on life. He references the myth as a way to connect how Sisyphus pushing a boulder for eternity demonstrates how some people are in control of their fate, while others are merely a pawn in it. Before being condemned to push the rock, Sisyphus was able to see the beauties of the world, like the sparkling sea and smiles of the Earth. And when the rock descends to the bottom, it reminds man of the joys of life and depresses him further, this is how the rock wins. But in contrast, Sisyphus’ motivation to go down to the bottom and try again, knowing it’s pointless, shows how strong-willed he is. Camus argues that everyday people have the same conditions as Sisyphus, but Sisyphus is happy because he knows the extent of his life and can therefore recognize himself as the controller of his destiny. As Camus says, “his fate belongs to him.”

When you examine Camus’ essay on Sisyphus alongside The Stranger, it would be difficult to figure out which one came first if you didn’t know already. The stories are interconnected because Meursault’s story is one where he was in control of his fate, and Sisyphus took control after laboring aimlessly for 10,000 years. If it were a competition, Meursault would definitely have the bragging rights since he figured it out way faster. Meursault was proactive instead of reactive to his surroundings, and didn’t succumb to the expectations of his peers. And overall, I feel the most powerful takeaway from Camus’ writing was its emphasis on autonomy, and how when humans eliminate outside distractions and embrace our own values is when we can truly dictate our destiny.

Trust. Does Maria Embody Meursault Tendencies?

Trust, the 1990s comedic, dramatic, and crime filled movie displays many complex characters. Maria Coughlin, one of the main characters in Trust embodies similar tendencies to Meursault, the main character in The Stranger. One may argue that both Maria and Meursault are raging existentialist. One may argue that both are thriving in their given environments. Is it fair to categorize both characters as extreme philosophical thinkers or do they just co-exist in society? As I write this, I would argue that Maria and Meursault both embody existentialism and what it means to question constructs. However, I would love to hear your thoughts on this multiplex question.