The Irony in 'The Truman Show' and 'The Stranger'

Modified: 4th Jun 2023
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Truman from The Truman Show and Meursault from The Stranger both have things that foreshadow their ultimate choices in life, which include symbolism, existential themes, and irony.

In The Truman Show , there is irony present throughout the whole movie. During most of the film, Truman wanted to leave Seahaven and go explore the world. He had a desire to do more than just live a quaint, common life. He is unique, and it is his motivation that makes him stand out. His enduring determination helped him find the answer. For example, he almost drowned during a storm while sailing, but he persisted on. Truman got an answer, but it may not have been the answer he was searching for. Once Truman learned that his life was a television show, he realized he would not be as unique if he left. He would not be the center of attention, and now wants to be just an ordinary person outside of Seahaven.

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There also irony present throughout The Stranger, as Meursault also has somewhat of an epiphany towards the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Meursault is indifferent to many things and does not show strong moral values. For example, he kills a man without strong reasoning. After getting sentenced to death, he truly realizes why he is getting punished for his actions. He understands what will happen to him and accepts it. Ironically, instead of having moral thoughts or feelings of remorse, he believes that hatred of him would make him feel less alone. However, he realizes he becomes happier when he better understands human existence and purpose. “As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself-so like a brother, really-I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate,” (Part 2, Chapter 5, P.123). He feels lonely, and it is the hate from the crowd of spectators that help him feel less alone.

Meursault faced a lot of things like an existentialist. For example, he was ready to accept his consequence after he shot the Arab. He also was ready for death, knowing it is inevitable. Some existential themes include freewill, controlling your own fate, accepting your fate, and taking responsibility for your own actions. These themes are all present in The Stranger. It was the freewill that led him to shooting the Arab, because he was in total control. He chose his fate, accepted the consequences, and took responsibility for what he did. For example, he realized he was going to die, and accepted it.

There are also existentialist themes in The Truman Show. Although the show’s creator, Christof, tried to keep Truman in Seahaven, he ultimately could not. Truman’s freewill and control of his own fate led him to discovering the truth about Seahaven, and thus controlling the outcome of his life. He accepted the reality of his life being centered around a television show, but moved on by leaving Seahaven. Although Truman’s artificial world came to an end, he entered reality as he left Seahaven.

Symbolically, Truman’s “fake” world coming to an end was foreshadowed by a previous event. The light fixture that fell as Truman left his home symbolized things starting to fall apart. Shortly after this even, there were more examples that caused him to be suspicious and doubtful of the world around him. Another great example of symbolism in the film was the unfinished bridge that Truman and Marlon had conversations on. Truman was always uncertain of something when he spoke to Marlon on the bridge, and it could represent Truman’s unfulfilled life and uncertainty. Although Truman’s life was unfulfilled in his eyes, there is something that foreshadows him traveling in the future and discovering something. The name of his sailboat was the Santa Maria, which was a famous boat that Columbus sailed to America on. This foreshadowed Truman leaving the town of Seahaven to explore a completely new world.

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There is much symbolism present in The Stranger as well. For example, Mersault does not like being uncomfortable, especially from the weather. Many perceive the sun as a source of warmth, sometimes beauty, but Meursault dislikes the heat. The sun normally brings joy, emotional warmth or comfort to an individual, but Meursault seems to dislike feeling emotional in any way. He also dislikes heat from the sun. The sun was a barrier of Mersault’s emotions. It also led him to murder. While walking on the beach, Meursault encountered the Arab again. The Arab reflected light off of his knife from the sun. Meursault thought to himself, “All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, instinctively, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes,” (Part 1, Ch.6, P.59). Right after this, he shot and killed the Arab. It seems like the little emotions that Meursault had took over his actions. Before walks up to the Arab and shoots him, Meursault thinks to himself, “It occurred to me that all I had to do was turn around and that would be the end of it. But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back. I took a few steps toward the spring,” (Part 1, Ch.6, P.58).However, towards the end of the novel he did gain some morals and understood much more about life. When he did, he looked into the window, with the sun shining behind it, and gazed at his reflection: “I moved closer to the window, and in the last light of day I gazed at my reflection one more time,” (Part 2, Ch.2, P.81).

As you can see, existential themes, symbols and irony not only foreshadow, but affect Meursault’s and Truman’s ultimate choices in life.


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