The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Essay by guitargirl211College, UndergraduateB+, March 2008

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Existentialism: A Way to Achieve HappinessAfter stealing the gods secrets and escaping death, Sisyphus was sent to the underworld. His punishment was to continuously roll a rock to the top of a mountain then allow the rock to roll back down from its own weight. Camus, the author of The Stranger, views Sisyphus' punishment differently than most would; the endless labor, if viewed existentially, can bring Sisyphus happiness. Existentialism is living in the moment, merely existing and this is how Camus' character, Meursault, becomes very alike to Sisyphus. Both of them, to make their lives bearable, must view them, and live them existentially.

Life is absurd. "The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd [than that of Sisyphus]. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious" (Camus Myth of Sisyphus). Sisyphus and Meursault are able to achieve happiness because they live existentially. If they are never conscious of how their lives are just repeats of the same meaningless tasks over and over again then what is there to be unhappy about? "Maman used to always find something to be happy about" (Camus 113). Meursault could also always find something to be happy about. All he needed to be happy was a nice swim or a good dinner: "Marie and I swam out a ways, and we felt a closeness as we moved in unison and were happy" (50). Living the way these two men did, they could be considered absurd heroes; they found happiness in their lives of repetition.

Meursault's death was lingering over him in his jail cell. Most would turn to religion or lie to get out of the death row, but Meursault could not do that.