You use the wrong word, confirm, rather than conform, which is what I think you mean. Please fix. Some other confusing points are made – in what ways is Mersault’s liberation ironic? Your explanation does not answer this. I think that your point that overcoming his fear is the main point is incorrect. I think he is just now convinced that his way of seeing the world is right and that the others have got it wrong. His execution vindicates his philosophy. I am also not sure what you mean by Firdaus’s mental freedom – better to say that she overcomes her fear of men. Also why do you talk about hegemonies (plural) in Egyptian society? What groups of people are you referring to? However, the biggest problem with your opening paragraph is that you have not answered the question “To what extent…”. I have no clear sense of a line of argument here.
Para 2 – Rethink your statements that Mersault advocates existentialism and FIrdaus advocates femininsm. These statements are too broad and not entirely true. Both come to a realisation about life and I think it is more important to outline what these realisations are, than to talk about advocacy. Overall the paragraph is not linked to your question or any line of argument.
Para 3 – What do you mean by “human conventions” ? How is this paragraph linked to your question?
Para 4 – The last sentence is a marginal point. I do not think overpriced rent/food are the key social ills being examined in the text.
Para 5 – Undeveloped paragraph that does not link to your question. What is the point you are making here?
Para 6 – I think your point about Mersault’s rationale is correct, but you need to think Fridaus’s rationale.
Paras 7-9 – These are more paragaph fragments that do not have any direct link to your question or a clear line of argument. They just offer us bits of information.
Para 10 (conclusion) – Again, this does not link to your question or to any evident line of argument. WIthout such links, it becomes a meaningless conclusion. You really need to think more carefully about what your line of argument (thesis) is in this essay and make it explicit. Each paragraph in turn then ‘proves’ this argument by providing detailed ideas and examples.
A lot of work to do here Jensen. As it stands I would say you are on a level 5 here.
“Women at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi and “Outsider” by Albert Camus both present protagonists who refuse to conform to society’s expectations. While Meursault was initially a physically and mentally free man of his own will, Firdaus was initially physically and mentally trapped by society. Meursault started off as a free man, there was a never a need to liberate himself since he the started of as a man who imposing his own principals on life. But when he commits a crime, he effectively loses his physical freedom with the killing on an Arab, then finally delivers himself again by overcoming the fear of death. On the other hand, Firdaus’s path of liberation begins with the the realisation of her inferior social standing in society as women, which denied her of the right to physical and mental freedom. However, each major change in Firdaus’ life brings increasing liberation from social hegemonies: Firdaus overcomes her physical entrapment by using her body as an instrument to gain profit, and later breaks through her mental entrapment by killing a man. Like Mersault, Firdaus’ final act of liberation is overcoming the fear of death itself. It can be said that the protagonists are both liberated on different levels: social, mental and physical.
Through these paths of liberation, the two texts share a common theme which emphasizes a strong rationale to be true to one’s cause and belief even to the extent of self-sacrifice and to remain defiant to the submission to the ways of the social hegemony. However, there are subtle differences between their ideological paths of liberation. Meursault advocates existentialism as a way of living, Firdaus advocates feminism against patriarchy. Yet despite ideological differences, both characters show that by remaining true to one’s principals, even in the face of social tyranny, it leads to one’s physical, social and mental liberation.
At first, the plight of both protagonists are not yet in conflict with the human conventions of the respective societies. Meursault’s first words establish his lack of concern with social conventions: “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” Meursault is in complete control of his own life, compelled by simple bodily pleasures: the warm sea, the colour of the sky, his girlfriends body “The water was warm and rippled with long, lazy waves.”(p.37), “The sky was green and I felt happy.”(p.30), “You could see the shape of her firm breasts…” (p.37) Meanwhile, Firdaus’s childhood life was one of sexual harassment by her uncle and rejection by her parents. At this point, the protagonists are coming from two very different circumstances: Meursault is free, while Firdaus is trapped.
Later on, both protagonist make life changing decisions that are completely the opposite from what they were in the beginning. Meursault kills an Arab and loses his physical freedom through incarceration. The freedom Mersault esteems above all else has been taken from him, thus he is unable to carry out his principals of life. Firdaus becomes a prostitute and frees herself from her physical identity. She takes possession of the body that had been the source of torment, and turns it into a source of profit. What we can see here is a complete switch in circumstances. Meursault’s body is trapped in jail, while Firdaus is willfully using her body to make a living. At this point, it can be said that Meursault has lost his physical freedom, while Firdaus taken her first step to liberation through converting her flesh into a profiting machine. However, though she is now in control of her body, she still ceases to be a prisoner to the capitalist system. Although she is freely choosing to use her body to make profit, she may not have chosen to do this, if there wasn’t a system that required people to buy overpriced food and rent.
However, when both protagonists commit murder, they are immediately imprisoned and condemned by the social hegemonies. When questioned, they both provide honest and simple explanations to crime. Yet, despite the extremity of their honesty, society only further condemns them. In “The Outsider”, Meursault refuses to lie about his experiences, ignoring the advice of his lawyer that would save his life. In “Women at Point Zero”, Firdaus rejects the parole offer from the psychologist.
The rationales which both protagonists provided as a justification of their crime effectively juxtaposes with the hegemony’s rationale for executing them. In “The Outsider”, the social hegemony proved itself to be incapable of understanding Meursault’s motives and their decision to execute him only reinforces their ignorance, making a mockery of their “justice”. This is seen in “…another thing had surprised him…I didn’t know how old mother was. “(p.86) “…I said quickly it was because of the sun. Some people laughed.”(p.99)In “Women at Point Zero”, upon Firdaus’s arrest she argues “for what you call my crime was no crime.” This was responded with “You criminal. You deserve to die”.
Both protagonists choose death over life, showing that they didn’t believe the social hegemonies would ever give them genuine freedom even if released. If they had chosen to live, both protagonists would have sacrificed their principles to the demands of a corrupt society, thereby corrupting their own lives, and making a mockery of their own histories. In “The Outsider”, Meursault was provided with an opportunity to live multiple times but boldly turned them down. In “Women at Point Zero”, Firdaus was given a chance to be released but talked back to the authorities and expressed her desire to die than live.
Both protagonist chose to spend their final moments by reminiscing their past life, however there was not a hint of regret or resentment in their tone. When death arrived terrifyingly close, both protagonists accepted their fate calmly and willingly. In “The Outsider”, Meursault was reluctantly embroiled into a verbal fight with the chaplain who insisted that he “turn over to god” and was firmly rejected by Meursault who stated “I had only a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God”. In “Women at Point Zero”, Firdaus finishes her story with “I spit with ease on their lying faces and words, on their lying newspaper” and shows her execution was a result of her negative reaction, which had not been expected by the male authorities, when she was given a chance to be released.
Both protagonists believed that choosing their own death was the ultimate weapon against the corrupt social hegemony; Just as Firdaus chose to use her body to make money, instead of having it imposed on her by sinister creeps, she also chose her own death, rather than a life dictated by hegemonic powers. Meursault maintained his philosophy of freedom to the very end, freely choosing death, instead of a life amongst people with tyrannical demands. By denying an appeal they have liberated themselves a life that never promised free will.
To conclude, we can see that both protagonists have successfully overcome the corruption of social hegemonies, however it is apparent in the two novels that the path to their liberation was completely different and that the motivating principles behind their actions were very different. Yet, despite these fundamental differences, everyone can agreed that their refusal to betray their own integrity had ultimately cost them their lives.
To what extent do the actions of Meursault and Firdaus liberate them from the corruption of social hegemonies in “The Outsider” by Albert Camus and “Women at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi?