The concept of Crime and Punishment in The Outsider
and A Doll’s House.
By: Emily Griffith
ACS Egham International School
Session: May 2012
Candidate Number: 001211-018
Word Count: 1,491
The concept of Crime and Punishment in The Outsider and A Doll’s House.
The concepts of crime and punishment are two dominant themes that run throughout both The Outsider, by Albert Camus, and A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen. Each author expresses these themes in contrasting ways, Camus dealing with it from a more judicial and physical approach, and Ibsen from a more social and psychological approach.
The nature and context of the crime committed in The Outsider are very different from those of A Doll’s House. Firstly, the stories are set in different time periods, both of which have different value systems and societal norms. In The Outsider, set in the mid 20th century, the murder committed by Meursault is a shock to society because of Meursault’s nature, not because of the crime itself, which is a reflection of the classism and racism present during that time. The crime may have been less shocking because of Meursault’s working class status. However, Meursault’s reaction to the crime and the way he associated with people shocked society and appeared to be the real ‘crime’ for which he was condemned. There is a clear racial prejudice presented between Meursault and his victim, who is only referred to as ‘the Arab’. Meursault committed murder as an act of random aggression, and although he was convicted for the murder, it appears his sentence is influenced as much by his abnormal behavior as it was by the actual crime. Meursault states, “…during the prosecutor’s and my lawyer’s speeches, a great deal was said about me, possibly even more than about my crime.” (Camus, page 95). It appears that the murder was overshadowed partly due to the fact that Arabs were held in lower esteem than people of Meursault’s class, contributing to...