Absurd Heroes Analytical Essay

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Heroes are the people who can recognize the pointlessness of life and through personal values give it meaning. According to existential philosopher Albert Camus, this quality is what creates an absurd hero. In Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger, it features a character named Meursault who through the story becomes one of these heroes. Relating to existentialism, writer Anton Chekhov tells a story about lawyer who can not become an absurd in the short story, “The Bet.”

The Stranger’s Meursault begins as a bland character, but as the story progresses he grows in to an absurd hero. At the beginning of the novel Meursault’s mother passes away and explains it as, “Maman died today. Or yesterday, I don’t really know. I got a telegram from home: Mother dead. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours. This doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” This line is one of many exemplifying Meursault’s “meh” kind of attitude for he does not care about social standards and society’s view on right or wrong emotions.

In the end, Meursault is ordered to execution and before death he shares, “And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.” Throughout the book it is apparent that Meursault refuses to show feelings he does not have with a lack of attention to social norms. Even so, he still can find happiness through his own standards and show off how he is a true absurd hero.

Anton Chekhov’s antagonist, the lawyer, explores the idea of being in bondage over the death penalty for a cash reward at a party with many wise men. This party is only the beginning of a slow descent to his path of failure of becoming an absurd hero. When the banker proposed the deal, he offered imprisonment for five years but the lawyer countered with fifteen years to show off how easy the task would be for himself. While in confinement, the lawyer read many books and studied multiple languages in effort to be a wise man to occupy his time in prison.

When the lawyer had nearly completed serving his time in prison, the banker found a letter that read, “To prove you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise.” This quote is a perfect reflection of how the lawyer’s prison time caused him to detest society with no joy or purpose to life.

The Stranger and “The Bet” characters begin on a similar path but yet only one will become an absurd hero. Meursault is introduced into the novel as an emotionless character that is difficult to become attached to. When Chekhov brings the lawyer into the story he is a cocky young man thinking very highly of himself and abilities starting the reader off with an uncertainty to the likability of the character.

Meursault floats through his experiences, almost as if he is observing himself from above, with an unbiased opinion towards his encounters. He befriends the people he likes and leaves out the unwanted characters to find enjoyment and fulfillment in his life. That is where these two men differ. The lawyer in the story reads many poems, plays, and books but this newfound knowledge only gives him a resentment to the world and the people who reside in it.

The Myth of Sisyphus defines an “absurd hero” as someone who recognizes the absurdity in the world, but can embrace it to find joy instead of an escape. In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault understands this craziness of life and chooses to embrace it and believe in only what he feels is true. Through this process Meursault is able to find happiness and a meaning to life, the absurd hero’s true mission. In contrast, Anton Chekhov’s character, the lawyer, finds himself stuck in prison and grows a distaste towards the system and society leading to him falling short of becoming an absurd hero.


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Absurd Heroes Analytical Essay. (2021, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/absurd-heroes/



How do you become an absurd hero?
You become an absurd hero by being yourself and by doing what you believe is right, even if others think it is wrong.
How is Meursault an absurd hero?
He is an absurd hero because he is an individual who rejects all conventional values and beliefs. He is also a hero because he is an individual who is willing to stand up for his own beliefs and values, even if it means going against the grain.
What is an absurd hero?
An absurd hero is a character who is committed to an impossible or foolish task, often in the face of overwhelming odds.
What is the theory of absurd?
Absurdism is the philosophical theory that existence in general is absurd . This implies that the world lacks meaning or a higher purpose and is not fully intelligible by reason.
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