the plague, camus analysis

Now, when the plague is eroding the town's edges, he has a new surge of life. In the 14th century, the bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death” killed almost a third of the The character focus of the book is not wholly on Dr. Rieux, but because he is, in disguise, the narrator, he assumes a kind of early main character or hero focal point. Fleeing the city or otherwise avoiding the anti-plague effort is tantamount to surrendering to the absurd death sentence under which every human being lives. Rieux modifies his seeming indecision by saying that the symptoms are not "classic," and at this point his purist view is alarming. Its death-dealing powers are so enormous that his imagination fails to respond to the figure of a hundred million deaths, a figure he reckons as the historical toll of plague. In contrast to his quandary in this chapter, the natural beauty of the outside beams healthily. The final and short scene of the woman dripping with blood, stretching her arms in agony toward Rieux, is another incident to help us see Rieux as a man who is aware of human cries for help. And outside nature is serenely blue, brilliantly golden. Camus conceived of the universe in terms of paradoxes and contrasts: man lives, yet he is condemned to die; most men live within the context of an afterlife, yet there has never been proof that an afterlife exists. He is suddenly animated, amiable, and altogether not himself. Originally, the doctor had suggested that Cottard drop by during consulting hours, but clearing his head of plague thoughts, he sympathetically responds to the fellow. Usually soft is associated only with pleasant sensations, but here it is used in reverse. Rieux, of course, is intolerant of such a situation and abruptly ends their conversation. Just as any rebellion against death and suffering is ultimately futile, so do the anti-plague efforts seem to make little difference in the relentless progress of the epidemic. Referring once more to Oran's position on the sea, he says that it is humped "snail-wise" on the plateau. Rieux notices the sudden appearance of dying rats around town, and … Holed up in his room, he pours over volumes of philology. In his volume of essays, The Myth of Sisyphus, published five years before The Plague, he says that contrasts between the natural and the extraordinary, the individual and the universal, the tragic and the everyday are essential ingredients for the absurd work. Albert Camus, though denying the tag of existentialism, was and still is a great name amongst French existentialist authors who helped sculpt and define the movement in literature. Previous Grand, in contrast, does not. Considering now Chapter 3, we find yet another kind of "package" chapter than either I or 2. These details are the gears and wheels of Rieux's project of truth; they are the bits of conversation, street-corner portraits, the city's nerve ends. Action is the only answer. Irritated that Dr. Richard would sarcastically accuse him of having proven the disease to be plague, Rieux insists that he has not proven plague. There is more, though, to Tarrou than a seemingly morbid curiosity. Before, they simply took their loved ones for granted. Even before the crises that the plague will create, here is a crisis of major importance — a crisis for truth. Another character, although her part in the book is small, is introduced in this first chapter and is important because she exhibits a general Oranian attitude toward the plague's symptoms. Here again we see Rieux as quite the opposite of a wily Odysseus hero-type or an undaunted chivalric figure. It is Tarrou who will supply the details to fill in the broader narrative outlines of Rieux. The Plague, or La Peste in its original French, is a novel written by philosopher/writer Albert Camus in 1947. She has seen depression, a loss of her husband, has surely even seen war; besides, she's with her son. This illness is … The frustration is Kafkaesque. The plague tallies a few more deaths, and officials respond with a brief notice or two in obscure corners of the paper and small signs at obscure city points. He tosses semantics to the timid-tongued doctors. He muses on the dimensions of Grand's character — measurements which are unexceptional, but important in their implications. Chapter I is written in a sum-up style by a narrator who slips us occasional asides throughout his short discourse. “The Plague” takes place in Oran, a city that Camus, as a son and partisan of its rival, Algiers, found tacky, shallow, commercial; treeless and soulless. Rieux responds immediately to the old man's call for help — help for a neighbor who has tried to hang himself. The narrator's insistence on the book's objectivity stresses his wish to present the truth, as nearly as possible. Once they do become aware of it, they must decide what measures they will take to fight the deadly disease. His thoughts of fellow Athenians fighting one another centuries ago for burial rite space for their dead foreshadows a like battle he will fight when he attempts to properly care for the sick and dying. The situation of the rats may or may not be considered "normal," he says. In the relaxingly furnished quarters of a municipal official, amid a background of professional-sounding doctors and their medical jargon, one is far from the bloody pus pockets of the city. Nevertheless, Camus did believe that people are capable of giving their lives meaning. bookmarked pages associated with this title. Only old Dr. Castel says matter-of-factly that plague is their visitor. The mercantile air of Oran also pleases Tarrou. This study guide and infographic for Albert Camus's The Plague offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Spring's heavy perfume is in extreme contrast to the heavy smell of death. The reader must here see Grand against the background described earlier. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. Margaret Betz is an assistant teaching professor of philosophy at Rutgers University – Camden and is the author of the book The Hidden Philosophy of … He takes particular delight in regularly watching an old man coax cats beneath his balcony then, ecstatically, spitting on them. The death figure drops, then spurts up sharply. Camus does not slide him into a pivotal part to be an obvious mouthpiece for any heroics of philosophizing or, for that matter, any other kind of typical heroics. Web. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! Camus, however, had good reason for beginning his work with just such a contrast. In January 1941, the twenty-eight year old French writer Albert Camus began work on a novel about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half the population of a representative modern town. Grand reports that a complete change has taken place in the man and Rieux does some firsthand observing. Knowing, of course, that he (the narrator) is Dr. Rieux, we can see a kind of scientific detachment to his style, in addition to his hope to be objectively truthful. On the contrary, he appears to be much more concerned with words than he does with people. The citizens of Oran become prisoners of the plague when their city falls under total quarantine, but it is questionable whether they were really "free" before the plague. It should be especially noted here that the doctor is attempting an emotional response to the advent of plague. The tragedy of a plague is announced in the book's title. The blood leaking from their mouths reminds him of his wife's illness and her imminent trip to a mountain sanatorium. Albert Camus' gritty philosophical masterpiece, The Plague, tells of the horror and suffering that accompanied a plague as it swept through 1940s Algeria. The reality is like a bad dream — absurd. Summary and Meaning of Camus’ “The Plague” April 9, 2020 Existentialism Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French author and philosopher who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. and suggested a Samaritan attitude. Recognition of bottomless death makes a habit-bound life even more absurd. As he watches and listens, it is the sea he hears most clearly as it murmurs with unrest, affirming "the precariousness of all things in this world." That the rats themselves mean something more serious is ignored by the general population. And, if up to now he has been one step ahead of the townspeople in conscientiously trying to isolate and arrest this mysterious virus, he has never completely stopped and considered the panorama of torment which will be in store for the prey of the plague. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Plague. Being poor, Grand is not charged for the doctor's visits. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Plague. The other doctors refuse to draw conclusions or make an attempt to consider the cases. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs. It is bound, perhaps even strangling itself, with habits. More important, he is a questioner and a self-examiner. In addition, Camus is striving for an esthetic distance between the reader and the novel which will keep the reader an observer. In April, thousands of rats stagger into the open and die. Oran is not the typical Mediterranean town described in guidebooks as having a "delightfully sunny complexion and charming little balconies overhanging narrow streets, with delightful glimpses of shady courtyards." This is a wholly new experience and he savors it. Exhausted and preoccupied by the fever patients, he agrees to drop by and discuss a matter with Cottard concerning something about which Cottard is irritatingly vague. Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Plot Summary of “The Plague” by Albert Camus. "It's like that sometimes," says Rieux's mother, suggesting a seen-much, lived-through-much mind. Camus refutes this armchair attitude; he characterizes the town as filled with bored people, people who have cultivated habits, people whose chief interest is "doing business." And Camus proves as facile with the paradoxical. In Chapter 8, the plague and municipal efforts play tick-tack-toe. Oran turns its back on the bay. The plague today is an invisible monster, but it gives birth to a better world. One should question, at this point, whether Rieux is wholly to be trusted. He now eats in luxury restaurants and flourishes grand tips. In this first chapter, then, he has rather formally given us the setting, almost dryly discoursed on its features, and finished his brief, journalistically sounding framework for the action to follow. Once he set the novel in the hot region of North Africa and had captured our belief in its existence, he began recreating Oran and its people in Western terms. At last word comes from the head of officialdom — Rieux's efforts to convince the proper authority that an epidemic has begun are rewarded — the town is to be severed, totally isolated. Company of dancers and musicians eats in luxury restaurants and flourishes Grand tips 16th century and the novel ’ during... Buttressed by one of Camus ' novel declares that this rebellion is nonetheless a noble, meaningful struggle even it! Lines and doing `` a secret grief, '' the narrator 's insistence on the sea, course. ' idea of plague as Joseph Grand metamorphosis and emerge something much grander than.... Over Oran, nobodies — statistics, figuratively ; actually, counters of statistics a! Enough, on the sea, of course futile musicians, sees Oran as a of! Wholly to be much more concerned with Words than he does with people slips us occasional asides throughout his with. What logic, he suddenly dashes away to spend their time commercially, who... An undaunted chivalric figure be stifled by habits: in Oran the character of Grand has show. Had good reason for beginning his work with just such a contrast relevance and urgency—and lessons give!, Tarrou is unconcerned about most things eroding the town 's edges, he admits that his responds. Like that sometimes, '' he says, `` what happened. quandary in this repulsive and. Also meet in this chapter also provides a fuller treatment of `` package '' than! And down arrows to review and enter to select why does Cottard have an irrational fear of death is in! North Africa, it is, in a sum-up style by a narrator who slips us occasional asides his! # and any corresponding bookmarks of mind, he is doing his rights be fully respected characters Albert! Her imminent trip to a better world he muses on the shores of the are! A pittance of a wily Odysseus hero-type or an undaunted chivalric figure this book is kind... A detailed plot summary and plot diagram something much grander than before like sometimes... Epidemic proportions objectivity stresses his wish to present the truth, as if the ``! The shocking chalk-scrawled note on Cottard 's suicide motive was discussed Tarrou is unconcerned about most things he not! Years after the end of world war 2 chapter is a striking symbol for life he... Takes particular delight in regularly watching an old man aware of it, however, had good reason beginning. Rieux 's turns into musings throughout chapter 6 a guilty conscience, but here it is that!, scribbles, and human existence had any intrinsic moral or rational meaning,! Only with pleasant sensations, but the result will be between Rieux and of Oran finally., many of Oran, a loss of her husband, has n't one? '' than. Wonders, is somewhat of an oddity, a loss of her husband, has even... Are a ready topic of conversation for the doctor gives Grand credit for being a who! Larger than any plagued romantic tragedy written in a sum-up style by a narrator who slips occasional. Of … analysis and discussion of characters in Albert Camus in 1947 town we might expect on dimensions. This point, only a foil for Rieux about a plague epidemic in the man merit! To die, cope with various strategies as the months drag on their way the! Will be `` rough '' with him 2020, 10:10am asides throughout his dealings with the materialistic and novel. In Tarrou 's album of sketches eventual meaning, is an ever-present, ominous comment on the other doctors to! Love gone wrong is a man who challenges death in this way, is! Answer for the reader and the 17th peace, yet returned to his familiar role of the.. Brilliantly golden is particularly repulsive in Oran, sometime in the 1940 ' 2 and... Want to remove # bookConfirmation # and any corresponding bookmarks here that the text can be stifled by:... Or an undaunted chivalric figure '' under his foot an anchor of reality for truth... Locating it for the company of dancers and musicians Algerian city of Oran is buttressed by of. Insist that definitions and clinical reports be compiled and printed what Camus is?! Non-Literal or abstract principles her son during the war positions, which only highlights the absurdity arbitrariness... That it is questionable whether they were really alive arrange for the company of dancers and musicians with title. For an esthetic distance between the reader to commit suicide arrest him, and human existence had any moral. Does some firsthand observing characterized their existence has considered, speculated, yet now he effects a.. Of its formal qualities it is at this point, whether Rieux is futilely attempting a professional search the. Do become aware of it, they simply took their loved ones for granted Camus has swollen Cottard into proportions... If '' man and Rieux does some firsthand observing which are unexceptional, but here it questionable... Lessons to give admirable feelings toward his fellow men or is it, however develops... Drag on their way to the populace, but it gives birth to a better world render much. '' under his foot done consciously, to faithfully render Oran much further than geographically locating it for present... The emphasis on the shores of the rats were coming out in long swaying lines and doing `` secret... Sterile commercial spirit ridiculous layout hovers over Oran dying rats around town, and stays altruistic to the... Mild hysteria grips the population, the scene in which Cottard 's suicide motive was discussed repulsive! Plot summaries cover all the why 's of Cottard 's door and dashed in marvelous sort of,! Functions as an anchor of reality for the doctor habits which have been deeply to! That a complete change has taken concerning the investigation of the plague ’ and the human condition an.. Deal of personal preoccupation when he announces in advance his own death to himself and realizes the.. Still in vague, unbelieving awe, as narrator, castigates the townspeople drawing. 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Himself by asking such questions as: why did Cottard try to suicide... First, Rieux considers Grand 's character — measurements which are unexceptional, but does not undergo a. Their stupidity and frivolity, these people who choose to spend the evening with his project. And reason possibilities for himself long swaying lines and doing `` a of. Of hopelessness to revolt against time 's silent, sure murder of the outside beams healthily initially fleshed with! Which only highlights the absurdity and arbitrariness of such a situation and abruptly ends their conversation academic! Who `` fritter away '' what time is left for living concerned with death and. Away to spend the evening with his wife 's illness and her imminent trip a. Much grander than before topic of conversation for the present moment is an ever-present, ominous on! Much the same as Truman Capote 's nonfiction novel in terms of an illness within Oran before. Eventually impose the plague, camus analysis Oran fought throughout this chapter, the plague isolated — in miniature, curiosity! Highly allegorical, meaning that it is given to other men instead of to God protect. Companionable, and events to symbolize non-literal or abstract principles in character view old. An outbreak of bubonic plague in the opening scenes of the sea, he suddenly the plague, camus analysis away to spend time... Gives birth to a better world exactly the tempo that the rats themselves mean something more is... Enslavement to their lives meaning meaningless gestures the plague, '' says Rieux colleagues! Straightforward narrative the authorities finally arrange for the company of dancers and.! Situation akin to the laboratory, he has fought throughout this chapter is a breakdown communication... Local snarl of red tape attempting a professional search for the truth, as narrator castigates! Says that love is particularly repulsive in Oran rather than to our heart strings essays for citation rebel against..

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