Albert Camus's "The Myth of Sisyphus" was the basis for future reference to what literary critics and the like would refer to as the "tragic hero". The tragic hero, as defined by Camus, is a character in a story, play, or novel that is forever doomed to an undesirable fate. In The Stranger, the story's protagonist Monsieur Meursault would be defined as a "tragic hero". He is eventually doomed to a most horrible fate, he feels no hope for himself or his survival, and he accepts what he has to do with no question.
As a result of the murder that Meursault committed, the character is doomed to jail and to eventual execution on a count of murder. Doomed to this fate, Meursault finds himself in a most undesirable position and recognizes it. The narrator says, "nothing could be clearer. Whether it was now or twenty years from now, I would still be the one dying" (11). This particular quote shows the character's realization that death is something that, sooner or later, he will have to face. It's as unavoidable as breathing or old age. Death at that point became a part of life; it was Meursault's very short life. Our hero is not such a hero throughout the course of the novel (or at least doesn't realize it). He does have much hope in the beginning of his trial. Meursault says that "
I can count the times I've wondered if there have been any instances of condemned men escaping the relentless machinery, disappearing before the execution or breaking through the cordon of police" (108). The narrator is clearly hopeful. He is trying to comfort himself by contemplating a possible "way out". He soon realizes that this is impossible and comes to his senses: "Of course hope meant being rundown on a street corner, as you ran like mad, from some random bullet" (109). Meursault realizes that any hoping would just be delaying the inevitable. Death would come sooner or later for everyone. For him it just happened to be now.
Meursault's ultimate conversion into the "tragic hero"...
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