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Outside the Realm of Morality

Man does not know freedom. From the moment man is born through the moment he dies, man abides by the laws laid down by society. Freedom is a notion, a term used by idealistic teens, a term used to describe a political state often equated with democracy, a term used by men and women to break off a relationship. While man may seek freedom, he will not find it.
The Immoralist, by Andre Gide, is the chronicle of one man's desperate search for freedom. It is the story of his wild attempt to disregard the laws of society, the laws of morality, the story of an amoralist. His quest for freedom incessantly invokes the search for the authentic in man, for sincerity, and the conflict between unconscious life and conscious life.
The hero, or, rather, anti-hero of this novel is Michel, a man whose brush with death gave him a ravenous hunger for life. This greedy lust for living made Michel seek out strength in man, it gave him a devouring desire for health (which he often saw in little boys). However, simply seeing health around him, being healthy himself, did not satisfy Michel. He was driven by a need to find the authentic in man, the sincere self, that innermost, hidden self in all men.
Michel, though always striving for authenticity, failed. Sincerity in man is linked to man's knowledge of himself. Michel did not know himself. During his physical recovery, he failed to consider his mental self, he failed to probe his subconscious – basically, he failed to think, he merely felt. This focus on the physical essentially pushed him outside of the realm of morality. By not questioning, not differentiating the good from the bad, everything became equal. As long one is affirming one's life, immorality is of no concern. To walk down a flowering pathway or to stay out drinking and sleeping around are basically the same. To kill, to kill without conscience or guilt, is the sign of a man who is truly free.

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