The main female characters of Sonia and Marie in Crime and Punishment and The Stranger, respectively, do more than faithfully support Raskolnikov and Meursault in their times of need. Their roles structure the men’s characters and ultimately help the men form their philosophies: Sonia manages to alter Raskolnikov’s superman theory while Marie's presence reinforces Meursault’s absurdist theory. By the women’s varying influence, they bridge the protagonists between individuality and society, and through an awakening Sonia eventually leads Raskolnikov to embrace society’s rules while Marie leads Meursault to abandon society and to affirm life and his individuality to an even greater degree.
By Raskolnikov’s and Meursault’s choice of female companionship, the reader can already perceive elements of character. Sonia and Marie both appear in the novels because of the disparate needs of the men. Sonia’s initial appeal to Raskolnikov is deeply emotional; he finds solace within a woman who is equally isolated from society due to her prostitution. Yet, surprisingly even to Raskolnikov, Sonia becomes his beacon of light: she is more enlightened than he in the ways of the world. On the other hand, Meursault is attracted to the pretty...
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