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Comparative essay

Comparative essay

The Outsider is a French novel (originally called L'Étranger) written by Albert Camus and published in 1942. It's genre is absurdist literature. It is a genre that explores human desire, meaning, purpose and the universe's indifference to humanity. The novel is written in the first person. The “I” in the second sentence of the book “Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.” (page 3) signals the first person point of view. It is immediately apparent. All speech and actions are seen through the protagonist, Meursault. The first person narrative emphasizes the isolation and suspicion that he feels. We get to experience Meursault's uncertainties throughout the novel and the absurdity of humanity. On the contrary, George Orwell's (Eric Blair) Nineteen Eighty-Four is written in the third person, limited rather than omniscient. The effect it produces is that it limits the reader's knowledge. We only get what Winston see, hears and feels. We know his inner thoughts and dreams and thus begin to feel like his friend or companion in his adventures and life. If he is confused, we become confused. If he is sad, we become sad. The reader has to guess what is real and what is not. “He did not know where he was. Presumably he was in the Ministry of Love but there was no way of making certain” (page 181). This novel has a wide variety of genres including romance, thriller, satire and science fiction.


The Outsider is about a man's life after his mother's tragic death and the murder that he committed shortly after. Like Winston, Meursault is thrown into jail. Both were not thrown into jail for the actual crimes that they committed but more for their different perspectives and opinions about society and life. Meursault has different opinions and beliefs than the chaplain just like Winston doesn't believe in the Party's totalitarian ideology. At the end of both novels both main characters kind of accept that they cannot change anything and abandon all hope.


Winston is confused and oppressed in the society that he lives in. He doesn't understand Big Brother: a big figure whose face is plastered on posters all over. There is also another character, O'Brien, who tortures Winston until he completely adheres to the Party ideology. He works at the Ministry of Truth and has to rewrite and correct stories according to what the Party considers acceptable of right. He does not enjoy his job and even seems deeply disturbed by what he has to do. Another theme in this novel is the notion of time. Winston wonders how he can keep track of time if the past can be rewritten at any time. He tries to rebel against this as it disturbs him. This book is written in a precise and limited manner so that the reader has less opportunity to use his imagination.


The Outsider  is written around the philosophy of Existentialism. Existentialism is a term that describes the belief of an absurd or meaningless world. It became very popular after World War Ⅱ. It influenced a lot more than philosophy. Theology, art, drama, literature and psychology were also influenced by this belief. However, existentialism usually leads to hopelessness and denial. After the murder that he committed, Meursault seems to feel an emotion for the first time. He realizes that his life actually does have meaning and that the murder that he committed has made him into a monster that everyone hates. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston lives a true nightmare. He hopes for a rebellion by the Proles but soon learns that it is impossible. This story is inspired by the Soviet Union. My idea is that since the Soviet Union failed, the Party will soon fail too. A country which victimizes it's population cannot succeed eternally. Winston feels that life is meaningless at the end of the book when he sits in the Chestnut Cafe, drinking gin. When I read this novel, I felt like it was really dramatic and even frightening.


Thus, I prefer Albert camus’s The Outsider because it has simple vocabulary but a beautiful style of writing. Albert Camus’s writing style in this book is also very clear and descriptive. Nineteen Eighty-Four’s style is the total opposite. There is not much description but more simple explanations. George Orwell also uses humour to enhance his style. “She had her first love affair when she was sixteen, with a party member who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. And a good job too.” said Julia. “Otherwise they’d have had my name out of him when he confessed.” He also seems to like short words more than long words as he says in his novel “Politics and the English Language”.

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