The Guilt and Innocence of Monsieur Mersault – Literature Essay
Guilt and Innocence were mere feelings that mean nothing to an indifferent soul. Monsieur Mersault is doomed by his apparent guilty innocence. Many times tackled by feelings
that are essential for one’s life, Mersault disregards all of them. Often he describes that his physical needs tend to come before his emotional ones. “My nature was that my physical needs often got in the way of my feelings.” Throughout the book he would describes much more and with more accuracy his physical needs, such as the weather, killing time at the prison and even about smoking cigarettes. His nature, fatalistically, became his doom.
Innocence is a term that has many definitions, the one found most applicable would be; lack of knowledge or understanding. “I wasn’t familiar with all the procedures…I didn’t quite understand what happened next”. Its clear in this exert that Monsieur Mersault was not enlightened about what was going on in the trial and why the reporters were analyzing every breath he took. It was his nature; he was indifferent to how people felt about him, or even to how his case would proceed. We can observe that this innocence is becoming an enemy, since he does not understand his case and does not care about it. His lack of knowledge and interest often makes him loose track of what the prosecutor was saying making him much more susceptible to any of the prosecution’s questions. “For example, I got bored very quickly with the prosecutor’s speech” He had the innocence of being bored when the prosecutor was twisting his fate. He has a logical reasoning for being bored as “whatever interest you can get people to take in you doesn’t last very long”. Therefore, the prosecutor talked about his life, he evoked the right feelings in the jury, the emotional ones. He convinced them that with his “naiveté” he premeditated the shooting of the Arab. He caught Monsieur Mersault right where his guilty innocence screamed guilt. “I could feel how much I’d enjoy going for a walk if it hadn’t been for mama”. Nihilistic attitudes such wanting to enjoy a walk throughout the country on the day of your mother’s funeral contributed to the prosecutor’s point because we can see exactly how Mersault makes it clear his non-value for human existence. Mersault existentialist nature contributes much to lack of understanding of small but important things. Therefore, Camus builds the character of Mersault in this manner so we can try to understand The Absurd. Mersault, crashes with the absurd, he is a guilty-innocent person.
This snowball kept rolling and impressing more people throughout his life, until it impressed the jury which gave his ultimatum. He was guilty. He was so benevolent and apathetic towards his feelings and everyone that in the end his own nature made him an enemy to himself. Like a hazard to himself he continued to not generate value for anything that any normal person would value. “Funeral tomorrow… That doesn’t mean anything”. We can observe in this exert that Camus already starts the book emphasizing Mersault’s passiveness towards his moms funeral, which builds up into a deal of innocence in his trial that turns him into a guilty criminal. Ironically it makes sense, therefore it is absurd because he never did anything wrong, he did not kill the Arab intentionally and to live an nihilist life was his nature.