You can read four articles free per month. In the Plague, there are two narrators (Dr. Bernard Rieux and Jean Tarrou) who present the events as they unfolded in Oran. In fact, the risks add up as he works, and he does eventually die from the plague, becoming the epidemic’s last victim. As Rieux ably narrates: “The plague had forced on him a detachment which, try as he might, he couldn’t think away, and which like a formless fear haunted his mind. The reluctance with which precautionary measures are taken up is woefully indicative of the inadequacy of the machinery of the state to act upon the basis of unfamiliar evidence to bring into effect measures which might have prevented the outbreak. Compare and Contrast the role of the narrators and how Camus and Roth use them. Politically, I think it will also be remembered as the year in which authoritarian regimes around the world made public their inadequacy. Tarrou records in his journal that death tolls are not reported daily, not weekly. Physics The situation worsens. And insofar as we continue to live unawares in the midst of this conflict between our species and nature, life and death will continue to be dictated by means beyond our control, even our understanding. Born in Algeria, Camus began collecting material for The Plague in Oran in 1941. Hardly innocent, then. The passing of time dulls our attention to detail, and despite the power of our civilization, the mass of humanity remains slow to respond to threats. It’s possible to read the book in such a way as to ascribe the outbreak of plague in the first sense to the prevalence of the plague in the second sense. Drama Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Nursing Rieux’s guilt at his recognition that he failed to act strongly enough early on does not diminish his humanity but brings it out. When you get a discount code, you use it to place an order through this link, and a waiver applies based on the code you get via email, for example, a 100% discount means no charges will apply. This leads him to create sanitary squads to help mitigate the spread of the disease, to whatever extent possible. Electric Literature is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2009. Archaeology But for Camus, even virtue is not meaningful beyond what it means to the one who has it. Sign up for our newsletter to get submission announcements and stay on top of our best work. Which is tantamount to saying I’m like everybody else. No research is required, but if you do consult scholarly literary criticism, be sure to provide the source and to give credit in an in-text citation (in parenthesis). The concept of organizational culture : rapidly changing environment. Required fields are marked *. For Camus, we must take responsibility for creating meaning for ourselves just because of the fundamental absurdity of life – the mismatch between what we would want from life and what it actually gives us. A stalwart man, he is capable of enduring a great deal, and is quite used to administrators who fail to heed his concerns. You’ve read one of your four complimentary articles for this month. The Plague focuses on Bernard Rieux, a doctor in Oran, then part of colonial French Algeria, who first warns the city’s prefect of an impending epidemic of bubonic plague. In fact, the risks add up as he works, and he does eventually die from the plague, becoming the epidemic’s last victim. What could be more absurd than becoming aware of the danger of a crisis only by living through it, as though it were predestined to happen and nothing one does could change that? So, as predicted by the narrator of The Plague, ‘the plague’ is not over and will likely never be over. In our little town (is this, one wonders, an effect of the climate?) Their chief interest is in commerce, and their chief aim in life is, as they call it, ‘doing business’. Tarrou also directly addresses the plague as a metaphor for something much larger and longer-standing than the epidemic. Urban Studies, Civics As mentioned, the bulk of the population of Oran is primarily concerned with making money and though many commentators are inclined to exempt Rieux from this description, there are reasons to think otherwise – including his final exchange with his wife, in which they talk about the expense of the train ride she is to take. Which is tantamount to saying I’m like everybody else. In this sense, The Plague allegory suggests that it is the inertia of culture, its prevailing assumption that the future will resemble the past (which David Hume grandly called the ‘Principle of the Universality of Nature’) that makes life absurd. But, in the character of Tarrou’s father, he also indicts the liberal French Third Republic that preceded the Vichy Government, and the Fourth Republic that followed it too, for their legalistic murders. Tarrou’s own history incriminates the communists, as he vividly describes a firing squad led by revolutionaries in Hungary—a possible reference to the Red Terror in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, but certainly to Stalinism more generally. As Tarrou tells Rieux: “This epidemic has taught me nothing new, except that I must fight at your side.”. Thomas Dylan Daniel is the author of four books of philosophy, fiction and poetry. Although it is present all along in his choice of Rieux as narrator, Camus’ compassion is most clearly visible at the end of the novel. By contrast, Rieux is part of the city’s establishment. Though he disavowed being called an existentialist as a means to avoid association with Jean-Paul Sartre, a one-time friend turned enemy, Camus’ work nevertheless centers upon existentialist themes, such as each person’s need to take responsibility for their own choices and actions and in doing so to create meaning for their lives. Camus joined the resistance movement to the Nazi occupation and, after the liberation of France, returned to his novel, which was published in 1947. X. Religious studies Ways in which this can be done: By spending one’s days on an uneasy chair in a dentist’s waiting-room; by remaining on one’s balcony all a Sunday afternoon; by listening to lectures in a language one doesn’t know; by traveling by the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course standing all the way; by lining up at the box-office of theaters and then not buying a seat; and so forth. However, as Camus might remind us, all is not lost. As the plague worsens, Tarrou observes that much of life goes on as usual, and in particular the cat-spitting man. One evening, sitting on a terrace overlooking the city to the sea, Tarrou tells Rieux: I had plague already, long before I came to this town and encountered it here. Tarrou’s long soliloquy toward the end of the book is perhaps the most brilliant moment in this extraordinary work. It stands for a decadence of culture which has led Oran into a currency-fixated complacency, especially with respect to the fragility of the relationship between humanity and nature. Please support our work by, Stephen King’s Experiment with Online Self-Publishing Was 20 Years Before Its Time, 7 Essential Works of Punk Rock Literature, If Only Your Life Was as Heroic as Your Novel. Your email address will not be published. The purpose of this speech is to describe what a close reader might call the ‘real’ plague which is the subtext of the book – the instinct to kill another human being, or at least the tendency to bring about their death by action or inaction. Camus uses the plague to scrutinize the crises of his time, from the remnants of fascism, to the re-establishment of liberalism, to the expansion of authoritarian communism. In The Plague, the need for the individual to confront the absurd stands out in stark relief, masterfully woven into a fictional narrative of a cholera outbreak which many interpret as an allegory for the Occupation of France during World War II. Some people don’t know they have it, this monster lurking within. Whether or not we carry COVID-19, we have helped build, or at least acquiesced to, a society in which the economic, political, and social conditions allow the virus to burn like a wildfire, threatening to consume so many lives.
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