Reflections on human essence, the motives of specific actions, and the choice in favor of certain decisions occupy a significant place in the literary niche of art. Both mature writers and authors with little experience address these topics and seek to convey to readers their unique interpretation of how people explain their values and ideologies. To give examples, two well-known works will be considered – The Stranger by Albert Camus and The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories by Mark Twain, and their characters’ reasoning will be evaluated (Meursault and Satan, respectively). The absurdity of being and obedience to instincts are common ideas promoted by both authors, and the moral factor is the background forming the arguments of the characters regarding an inferior and vulnerable human being.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
Existentialist themes and motifs are discussed in both these works. The novel by Camus is filled with philosophical reflections and ideas about human existence from a natural, not fictitious perspective. The character of the Meursault is a generalized image that is a variant of an ordinary person living with the awareness of the meaninglessness of his existence. As he himself argues, “my fate was being decided without anyone so much as asking my opinion” (Camus 98).
Meursault lives by obeying instincts but, at the same time, realizes the beauty of nature and the perfection of the world. The murder of a person, which he commits unconsciously, leads to a trial, but the character himself is not ready to admit that he is tried for a crime. According to Meursault, he is guilty of neglecting the conditional forms of relations among people, and he notes the following: “I had no place in a society whose most fundamental rules I ignored” (Camus 102). As a result, he chooses freedom that he sees in death.
The unfinished story The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain is based on the thoughts of an already mature writer about human essence. The mouthpiece of Twain’s ideas is Satan, the overthrow of generally accepted morality, ridiculing human vices. Comparing a person with a spider is one of the central ideas reflecting his attitude. A human for Satan is the same as a spider for an elephant that is not worried about the question of whether a spider is happy, rich, or poor.
Satan asks the following question: “Can you imagine an elephant being interested in him…” (Twain 20). Satan considers the presence of moral feelings to be the main shortcoming of people. He argues that a human being “is such an unreasoning creature that he is not able to perceive that the Moral Sense degrades him to the bottom layer” (Twain 28). Therefore, his rejection of the human essence is the basis of the story.
The similarity of the Arguments
In both works examined, human imperfection is presented as the main factor explaining people’s weaknesses and their lack of will. Camus offers an image of the character who could not comprehend the meaning of life, despite attempts to understand the world around him. Although Satan in Twain’s story is more knowledgeable about people’s interactions, he is also not ready to accept human humility and apparent morality. Therefore, both The Stranger and The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories may be considered works with a similar message and concept.
The absurdity of human existence and the rejection of values due to primitive instincts create the basic ideas of the considered literary works. Despite different plots, the characters of both stories agree on the weaknesses of people and their false priorities, which degrades them and defines them as submissive creatures. Therefore, these two works can be evaluated as those with a similar message and creative subtext.
100% original paper
on any topic
done in as little as
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Translated by Matthew Ward, Libraire Galliimard, 1989.
Twain, Mark. The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories. Dover Publications, 1992.