December 11 2013
Symbolism in The Stranger
Authors tend to use symbolism to address a profound meaning to what is written. In literature, symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them illustrative meaning that are different from their literal meaning. In the novel, Camus is effective in utilizing many symbols and motifs to symbolize certain aspects of Meursault’s life. This essay will explain the reasons as to how does Albert Camus depict society’s tendencies through the symbols of the jail and the crucifix. The symbolic significance of the Jail and the crucifix is vital in demonstrating society’s tendency to confine us to certain beliefs and behaviours. Society is effective in isolating criminals in confinement. Meursault was accused of executing an innocent Arab man on the shores of an Algerian beach. The jail therefore symbolizes society’s proneness to confine criminals to certain behaviours after their separation from society. Furthermore, Camus uses the crucifix to symbolize society’s tendency to restrict one to specific beliefs. Religion plays a vital role in the novel, as it is the main factor in contributing to Meursault’s imminent execution. In other words in the novel the Stranger, Albert Camus uses the crucifix and the jail to symbolize society’s tendency to confine humans to specific behaviours and beliefs. The jail symbolizes society’s tendency to effectively confine criminals to restrictive behaviours. Albert Camus writes, “ When I was first imprisoned, the hardest thing was that my thoughts were still those of a free man” (76). This implies that jail has changed Meursault character in such a way that allowed him to realize his unfortunate state of mind. Through the use of symbolism to highlight society’s tendency it allowed the reader grasp the importance of the jail and what it symbolized in the novel. The jail cell was a significant portion of the novel therefore it must hold symbolic meaning for the reader...
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