What Is an Example of Existentialism?


Martha Robinson

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It is a way of thinking that focuses on the human experience of living in a world that can seem random and meaningless. One example of existentialism in literature is the novel “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

“The Stranger” tells the story of Meursault, a French Algerian who kills an Arab man on a beach. The novel explores Meursault’s journey as he faces trial for murder and begins to question his own existence and the meaning of life.

One of the central themes of “The Stranger” is the concept of absurdity. Meursault realizes that life is inherently meaningless and that there is no external source of morality or purpose. This idea is reflected in the following passage from the novel:

“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.”

This quote highlights Meursault’s acceptance of his own mortality and his recognition that life has no inherent meaning or purpose.

Another key aspect of existentialism in “The Stranger” is freedom and choice. Meursault chooses to kill the Arab man, but he also chooses to accept his fate and not fight against his impending execution. This idea is explored in the following quote:

“I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.”

This passage emphasizes Meursault’s acceptance of his own actions and his willingness to take responsibility for them, even if it means facing death.

Throughout “The Stranger,” Camus uses language and imagery to convey these existentialist themes. For example, he frequently describes Meursault as feeling detached from his surroundings, as though he were an outsider looking in. This sense of detachment reflects Meursault’s feelings about life itself – that it is distant, meaningless, and ultimately unknowable.

In conclusion, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus is an excellent example of existentialism in literature. Through the character of Meursault, the novel explores important philosophical themes such as absurdity, freedom, and choice. By incorporating these ideas into the narrative, Camus creates a powerful work that challenges readers to question their own existence and the meaning of life.