Guests in Albert Camus's "The Guest": Essence in Tartarus

Document Type : Original Article


The Faculty of Literature and Humanity, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran


The present article aims to explore the notion of Existentialist essence in the major and minor characters of Albert Camus’s short story “The Guest.” It also takes it upon itself to investigate the different implications of the setting of the story. The central questions of this survey, therefore, are: which of the characters of the short story can be said to have developed a sort of personality we associate with Existentialism? What can be inferred from Camus’s choice of the setting? To answer the questions, this moral/philosophical study first reviews the basic tenets of Existentialism in a nutshell and then probes them as well as their functions in the characters and the setting of the narrative. The present research argues that the only person who fits into Camus’s conception of an Existentialist hero is Daru, even though The Arab, too, develops certain traits which are attuned with the Existentialist mindset. It is also revealed that in “The Guest,” there are significant allusions toThe Myth of Sisyphus, Inferno, Hell, Notes from Underground, “The Waste Land,” and Psalm 23, which create a gloomy setting and represent Daru as a modern Sisyphus. A possible implication is that Camus is effectively comparing the plateau/Algeria/the world to Hades/inferno/Hell and that he is identifying himself with Daru and the people living in the mid-twentieth century with the residents of Tartarus.


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