Philosophical Readings of The Stranger
Existentialism in The Stranger[pic]
Existentialism is characterized by the idea that the essence of an individual and the meaning of one’s life are both derived from the choices one makes. With this understanding, Albert Camus wrote a novel with a character that was figuratively dead. His novel, The Stranger, benefits from a reading through an existential lens because existentialism provides a solution to the absurdist problem Camus exemplifies through his protagonist. Meursault’s treatment of his mother and Marie, his trial, and his rejection of religion convey his bad faith and his journey towards true life.
Taoism in The Stranger
While Albert Camus intended The Stranger to be a work of absurdist literature, he inadvertently wrote a work which also strongly portrays the Taoist way of life. Camus’s protagonist, Meursault, displays traits that are desirable to a follower of the Taoist philosophy. This allows The Stranger to be easily analyzed through a Taoist lens. When considering Meursault, the reader can identify the following Taoist traits: a passive state of being, Wu Wei, perception without preconception, P’u, and a life where yin and yang are balanced.
Platonic Analysis of The Stranger
Ancient Greek philosophers have had a profound effect on our modern world from literature (Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey) to mathematics (the Pythagoreans’ theorems). They provided numerous philosophies that allow us to analyze the world around us. Platonic Realism, developed by Plato, states that there are separate universals wherein a perfect concept of a thing (from an apple to a shoe) exists. However, these universals, which house the true essence of any object or idea, are never known to us. In Albert Camus’s The Stranger, the protagonist’s (Meursault’s) indifference to the world demonstrates his unwillingness to pursue or understand perfection, allowing him to...
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