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Reviewing The Stranger By Albert Camus English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1746 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In The Stranger, by Albert Camus, Meursaults character is revealed as the novel progresses. In the first part of the book he shows his feelings towards others and what he thinks of them. Later on in the second part of the book, he starts to realize other people’s feelings towards him which ultimately leads to demonstrating his personality. He does not grief over his mother’s death and he does not feel remorse for murdering an Arab and these show that he is cold hearted and careless whilst unemotional towards tragic events. The main character is also convicted of killing the Arab and still feels no remorse towards the event and when his lawyer asks him why he does not cry, he states “it didn’t mean anything”. His murder of the Arab shows he does not have any ethical beliefs and does not make any ethical decisions. He doesn’t have any knowledge or reasoning behind his actions and he murders the Arab due to the sun being too “hot”. He also mentioned he did not believe in god and god gives people rules to follow in order to prevent horrible actions such as murder. Since Meursault does not have theological beliefs, he starts to become more of a threat to the society. Meursault becomes a threat to society through his theological beliefs, epistemological reasoning behind his actions, and his unethical decisions.

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Meursaults theological beliefs are revealed in the first chapter of the second part of the book when an officer asks him if he believes in god. “But he cut me off and urged me one last time, drawing himself up to his full height and asking me if I believed in God. I said no.” (pg.66, paragraph 2, line 2-5) This shows that he says he does not believe in god. Theology is the study of god and spirituality and for Meursault not to have any theological beliefs means he does not have any knowledge of god which also means he does not have any boundaries for his actions. In this case his theological belief is that there is no god. God gives everyone guidelines in the form of religion. Without these guidelines, actions will be committed without remorse, like the actions of Meursault. For him not to believe in god means he does not have guidelines to follow and is free to do whatever he wants to. Some may believe religion is imprisoning us of freedom but it actually helps us stay in the boundaries of rights and wrong so we do not step into the circle of wrongs which also relates to our ethical beliefs. The chaplain says, “Then god can help you. Every man I have known in your position had turned to him.” (pg.111, paragraph 2, line 4-6) Meursault says, ” I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I had only a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God….. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him…..I grabbed him by the collar of his cassock.” (pg.114, paragraph 1 (line 12-14), paragraph 3 (line 2-4)) This shows that the chaplain offers Meursault to go to god for comfort and Meursault says he doesn’t want to waste his time on God and then insults the chaplain and grabs him by the collar. This shows he lacks theological beliefs because if a Christian man was talking to the chaplain instead, he would take the advice and thank the chaplain and the person would certainly not grab the chaplain by the collar because a chaplain is from church which means he is with God and his boundaries would prevent the Christian man from grabbing the chaplain. Since Meursault didn’t have theological beliefs, he didn’t have any boundaries, and therefore, acted rudely towards the chaplain. These show that Meursault will be able to do anything without caring because he doesn’t have any boundaries due to his disregard of theological beliefs. This ultimately results in Meursault becoming a threat to society because he will commit the same actions without remorse due to his lack of belief in God.

Monsieur Meursault’s actions had very little epistemological reasoning behind them. Epistemology is the study or theory of knowledge and brings up questions such as: are Meursaults actions knowledgeable or are they based on impulse. His actions were definitely not knowledgeable and were based on pure impulse. “Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn’t mean anything…” (pg. 40, paragraph 2, line 4-6). This quote demonstrates that Meursault answers on impulse and says he doesn’t care and he says it doesn’t mean anything. This is not knowledgeable because love means a lot and it’s a great factor in keeping a couple together and he doesn’t care which, again, shows he is careless about everything. He does not think before he acts because he doesn’t care about other people’s feelings and only speaks of things that reflect only upon him showing he is a selfish human being. His lack of epistemological reasoning behind his decision can occur in other events and it can result in many other deaths or break ups of a family. When he attacks the chaplain and grabs his collar, it portrayed his impulsive reaction and he didn’t care what other people thought and this showed more of his carelessness which can result in tragic events. Also his actions show a lack of epistemology due to the fact that none of the things he did were logical. When he writes an offensive letter on Raymond’s behalf, he doesn’t think it over and says he’ll right it. Logic is the study of right reasoning and that was not right reasoning because he does not reason at all whilst saying he would write it on impulse. The fact that he put his mother in a home shows his lack of reasoning and that it was not logical at all. Any sane person would try to find money or another job to make money in order to keep his/her mother close to them so that their mother does not feel unloved, but Meursault did not even try to keep his mother at his house and sends her straight to a home. He has the money to take a train ride to his mother’s funeral but not to keep his mother with him. A train ticket costs about 90 Euros but a loaf of bread costs about one and a half Euros and for him to say he does not have money to keep his mother with him is insane because his mother would help him clean, make food, and comfort Meursault when he needs it. He still decides to send her away which shows it was not logical. All these ultimately lead to the fact that Meursault is a threat to society because he lacks epistemology and logic which show his carelessness to others around him.

In the first chapter of the book Meursaults mother passes away. He does not grieve over her death which demonstrated it was an unethical decision. When a family member dies, the other family members show a lot of grief over his/her death which would show the family made an ethical decision of grieving over the dead family member. Ethics is the study of right and wrong and it is clear his action of not grieving over his mother’s death is wrong. “He wanted to write her a letter, one with a punch and also some things in it to make her sorry for what she’s done. Then, when she would come back, he’d go to bed with her and right at the last minute he’d spit in her face and throw her out. Yes, that would punish her, I thought. But Raymond told me he didn’t think he could write the kind of letter it would take and that he’d thought of asking me to write it for him. Since I didn’t say anything, he’d asked me if I would mind doing it right then and I said no.”(Pg.30-31, line 28-38). This quote shows that Meursault writes a letter that will end up hurting a woman and this is an extremely unethical decision because it’s not right to make the woman sorry so that Raymond could later spit in her face and throw her out. He doesn’t consider ethics and writes it because he didn’t care. Near the end of chapter six when Meursault shoots the Arab, he does not feel any remorse afterwards. He doesn’t care and does not think of the Arabs family and how they would feel to find the Arab dead. His actions were unethical and were not right. He states, “…I never intended to kill the Arab….i blurted out that it was because of the sun.” (pg.98, paragraph 2, line 6-7, 13-14). This shows that he kills the Arab due to the fact that it was hot and it is not ethical at all because a family member was lost due to his unethical action whilst not showing any remorse to the incident. When one does not make ethical decisions while not feeling any remorse to the wrongs he has done, it can be threatening for the society because he could murder again without caring and he could start to kill innocent lives. These show that Meursault is a threat to society due to his many unethical decisions he makes.

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In conclusion, Meursault became a threat to society thorough the unethical decisions he makes, his disbelief of theology-god, and his epistemological and illogical reasoning behind his doings. He does not grieve over his mother’s death nor have any remorse after killing the Arab and this demonstrates his unethical decisions which show he does not take in consideration whether if it was right or wrong. He also mentions he does not believe in god which means that he does not have any boundaries. He is free to do whatever he wants to and will not have remorse to the wrong decisions because he does not believe in god which means he doesn’t have any guidelines to follow. He attacks the chaplain which shows he doesn’t care about the people that were with god and he mentioned he did not want to waste any time on god. This shows how careless of everything he is and he starts to become more of threat to the society and the people around him. He also does not have reasoning behind his actions and they are not logical and solely based on his selfish opinions and none of the actions are knowledgeable. All these prove that Meursault became a threat to society due to his disbelief and disregard in the aspects of theology, epistemology, and ethics which are elements used in everyday life so that people do not kill or hurt each other. Meursault did not consider any of those thus becoming a threat.


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