How Do Octavio Paz and Albert Camus Convey Their Respective Views on Death?

Topics: Existentialism, Life, Octavio Paz Pages: 4 (1217 words) Published: November 30, 2010
How do Octavio Paz and Albert Camus convey their respective views on death? World Literature 1

Many aspects of death are pondered and questioned throughout Octavio Paz's poems, the two I have chosen to particularly focus on are Plain and Near Cape Comorin. Albert Camus has also considered the aspect of death within his novel, The Outsider. The title, The Outsider is vital to the text, as it reflects many aspects of the author's life. David Simpson explained that ‘Camus lived most of his life in various groups and communities without really being of them’ (iii). This also shows similarities between Camus and the protagonist, Meursault, as throughout The Outsider, Meursault seems to neutralise all his emotions allowing himself to watch his own life as an ‘outsider’. However, Camus was born as and brought up to be an outsider, whereas Meursault assumes his detached, individualised life himself. Both Camus and his protagonist share an existentialist view on death, this is evident in the novel The Outsider. Whereas Paz shows a more positive stance on death.

Both Paz and Camus convey the notion that death is an inevitable product of life, however they go about this in very different ways. While Camus takes a negative view of death, hauntingly reflected in his protagonist's amoral, emotionless attitude towards his death sentence, Paz juxtaposes images of death and decay, with that of beauty, and nature. Plain is saturated with sexual imagery, however, it is displayed to the reader in a grotesque manner, suggesting that life shares an intrinsic link with death. Visceral imagery such as that of 'decapitated phalluses' and a gushing 'open wound' would normally point towards mortality, but the presence of sexual imagery contrasts this notion as, sexual intercourse is representative of the fruition of life. Camus presents a similar concept in The Outsider; as he articulates the idea that the only certain thing in life is the inevitability of death, and,...

Bibliography: • Camus, Albert (1971) L’Etranger, (translated from original French to English by Stuart Gilbert,) London: Heinemann Educational Books Limited
• Paz, Octavio,. 1979. Selected poems. A bilingual edition. Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd
• Simpson, David “Themes and Ideas: iii) The Outsider,” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
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