The Metamorphosis

Sympathy for Protagonists of The Stranger and Metamorphosis

In Camus’ The Stranger and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the protagonist finds himself in an extraordinary situation that challenges his will. In both novels, this initially unsympathetic character struggles to redeem himself. In so doing, his identity develops and his positive qualities become evident. The characters thus become unexpectedly sympathetic to the reader, and each novel concludes with a hopeful tone.

In The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault can be judged as a cold-hearted killer who is emotionally detached from the world around him. His alienation from society and indifference to love and sorrow are blatant. “Mother died today,” he comments, “Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.” He treats others callously: “She asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so.” Meursault only focuses on the physical aspects of life, especially relating to light and heat: “There wasn’t a shadow to be seen and every object… stood out so sharply that it was painful to my eyes.”

The Stranger’s central event occurs when Meursault shoots the Arab. The language used in this passage is so elaborate and rich in simile – “The steel… was like a long, flashing sword,” for example – almost detaches the...

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