The Immoralist

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The Immoralist, by André Gide is a novel that mainly focuses on a man named Michel. He is dying, and in his existence is searching for meaning to his life. The concept of immorality is driven throughout the story and must be questioned, at least in regards to Michel’s recovery and discovery. He is a flawed being, just as all humans are. His flaws lie in a sort of human perfection; one tainted by the human’s drive to live. Moral judgement must be sought after for the well being of the soul. Therefore, it is not immoral to want, need, or take as long as one is fed by it. Morality is entirely subjective; there is no right or wrong, only perceived angles of each. One person’s moral code may be completely opposed to another’s, but since culture and the outside society dictate to us what is moral and immoral, no one can be completely satisfied unless totally guiltless. This, by set standards, is immoral. The immoralist, Michel, is anything but.

Michel’s immoral feast is propelled by his need to live. Having never experienced anything for himself, Michel reflects on his new wife, Marceline, and her life saying, “So this woman to whom I was binding my life had a life of her own – and a real one! The importance of this discovery wakened me several times that night…”(Gide 13) Perhaps the most immoral thing Michel will do throughout his story is have succumbed to the ennui that captured him before he met Marceline. Michel falls ill to tuberculosis and his need to feel alive heightens. Stricken with weakness, he devotes himself to a quest: “Now I would make the thrilling discovery of life. (Gide 21)

Bachir, the Arab boy Marceline brings over from school, is what the dying man first indulges himself in. Sitting, tired in a chair, Michel longs to touch Bachir. He is vigorous, youthful, healthy, new, and pure, everything that Michel wishes he could have. Unlike Marceline, Bachir is pitiless for him, and this itself is comforting and empowering in Michel’s eyes. There are...
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