The Guest



The role of the prisoner in "The Guest" in terms of Michel Foucault's theory of prison


The role of the prisoner in ‘’The Guest’’ in terms of Michel Foucault’s theory of prison

By Kristel Bérard


    In Camus ‘‘The Guest’’, the Arab as a prisoner occupies a great role. In fact, while the plot is oriented towards Daru’s internal debate as what is ethical and what is moral, the Arab’s role is quite important. In fact, when looking at the Arab’s behaviour in terms of Foucault’s theory of prison, it is clear that the Arab’s behaviour is influenced by his imprisonment. It is said in Foucault’s theory that imprisonment changes people ‘’The prison is also based on its role, supposed or demanded, as an apparatus for transforming individuals’. [1]p. 232In The Guest, the Arab is acting in a disturbing matter. For example, he is given several opportunities to escape and he makes the choice to hand himself-in. The fact that he has been tied-up and controlled by the gendarme changed him. The Arab has been denied his freedom. ’This self-evident character of the prison, which we find so difficult to abandon, is based first on the deprivation of liberty. How could prison not be the penalty par excellence in a society in which liberty is a good that belongs to all in the same way’’[2] p. 233

      In The Guest, the ways in which societies imprison criminals is also described. The Arab is tied and carried with a rope. Even if this is not torture, it has a serious impact on individuals.

‘‘In our societies, the systems of punishments are to be situated in a certain political economy of the body: even if they do not make use of violent or bloody punishments, even when they use lenient methods involving confinement or correction, it’s always the body that is at issue ’’ [3]p. 227

    Moreover, one could question why the Arab chose prison. Is it the fear of freedom? Does he want to save Daru from getting in trouble? Is he having remorse from perpetrating his crime? One could say that the prisoner is doing what is expected of him. He is acting as a prisoner, scared of freedom, trapped in his role. That is why he chooses to hand himself in. To go further, the Arab is excluding himself, sitting far from others or in corners of rooms.


Work Cited

[1]Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish, the Birth of Prison. Panthon Books. 1978


[2]Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish, the Birth of Prison. Panthon Books. 1978

3]Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader. Panthon Books. 1978