Existentialism is a philosophy that underscores a small amount of main points, for example, the liberty to decide and the decisions one adopts which should be self-willed so that external influences or forces in forms of friends, associates or stakeholders have no impact on one’s choices.
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The individual must recognize and realize that he/she has the responsibilities and obligations to embrace the consequences of his/her decisions made as result of his or her own experience in as far as life is concerned. These are some of the aspects of existentialism.
Meursault is infamous as an existentialist. The story of Meursault describes that he murdered an Arab using a gun while they were picnicking on a beach. The reactions, moods and behaviors of Meursault, as a consequence of this murder, clearly depict him as an existentialist who was in despair.
Meursault’s earlier life, before he was finally executed, is characterized by carelessness, ignorance, irresponsibility and absence of any goals or reasons in life. On one occasion, he was betrothed to a young girl though having no serious feelings to that person. In prison, after being arrested because of the murder of the Arab, he displayed indifferent attitude towards his beloved one. Similarly, when his mother died during the same period when he was in prison, he did not care.
Again, the consequences surrounding the outcome of his sentence because of the murder case never bothered Meursault. When a prisoner gets a death experience, a person discovers that death cannot be cheated, thus one recollects the whole life. This is a fact that applies to all mankind.
On the road to recovery, there exists the need to acknowledge the illogical and to accept that death is indeed inevitable. IT may be strange though the universal nature of death gives many a purpose to live. It presents a need to love and be compassionate to the others who share the same fate. The moral guidelines of society are derived from these feelings.
The Stranger is a book on Meursault’s development on his road to recovery. At the beginning of the book, the author describes Meursault’s remorse over his mother’s death because he does not comprehend the concept of death. However, after the murder of the Arab, he realizes and concedes his own lack of purpose in life and looming death.
While in prison, he gradually discovers that the life he lived was not empty. He misses the some small things, such as to smoke and enjoy other life-related pleasures. The things which seemed to have no meaning now appear very important to him. Mersault embarks on a journey to search for purpose in his life and ends up inventing the one.
Despite trying to explain his actions to the magistrate, Mersault does not absolutely decline the existence of God and death. Priests and friends try to convert him to the reality and pursued in life after death. Consequently, though seemed to be adamant, was he agrees to accept his imminent death as a connection to humanity. Mersault hopelessly waits for his execution though he feels tranquil since he now clearly understands and knows himself.
One of Mersault’s hobbies is getting acquainted with current affairs and other related information from media sources, such as newspapers. He exhibits extra ordinary interest in reading topics related to scenes of murders. A good example is the much highlighted editorials related to the ongoing massacres of Czechs.
He is fond of nature and finds the scenes ranging from marine, terrestrial and celestial surroundings appealing. Mersault also has time for leisure either at home or picnicking around the country sides. Notwithstanding the fact that he has the above attributes and is perceptive of them, Mersault fails to express affection and compassion.
The outcome of the sentence of his life termination given by the court in connection to the Arab murder has negatively affected Mersault. He is heavily contemplating the loss after the realization that the pleasures and leisure time he enjoyed are no more so important. He gets preoccupied with thinking and plotting escape.
He cannot accept his sentence. He wonders why he was found guilty. He does not understand why he was tried not in a Chinese court, but in a French one. The timing and its relationship to the delivery of the verdict seemed a paradox to him. Meursault comes to the realization of his fate as an inevitable demise.
He thinks of prison guards leading him to his death in the morning and hopes that his appeal would be accepted. He is looking at the sky through his window and listening to his heartbeat to try and get distraction while imagining his heart would stop beating.
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He also thinks in event of his appeal being granted he might still be found guilty and thus his death is a looming fact whether it was to come now or later. He then ponders over a successful appeal and another chance to be set free and get more years to live. He also states that he would not mind to live in a hollow tree truck, so long as he gets to watch the sky, passing birds and clouds.
In conclusion, when Meursault is sentenced to death by the magistrate, he is ready to go. He is heard confessing that he lived a happy life before the murder and even in the face of death he considers living happily. Life or death is the same for Meursault. Contrary to his earlier attitude, after he realizes that he is facing death, he plunges into deep thoughts about life in this world and the life after death. He ponders how his mother experienced ahead of her death.
He is facing the reality of similar circumstances because of the death sentence. He has deep meditation on the real life on earth and starts appreciating the talents and the wide benefits endowed by the Mother Nature which he previously enjoyed indifferently though now he could understand their values in the face of death. He dies hoping to encounter similar values of life after death. Meursault started recognizing the importance of each moment in life.