Allegorical Criticism In Albert Camus's 'The Plague'

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Albert Camus’ The Plague is a classic novel about human suffering from an epidemic. This novel can be interpreted in three ways – the literal, the allegorical and the metaphysical. On a literal level, The Plague can be read as a novel about a small town, Oran, in Algeria, that gets struck by an epidemic of The Plague, and how the townsfolk deal with the repercussions of the infection. Interpreting the novel on a metaphysical level – was the plague evil? This would be answered by seeing the plague as “evil” in the world, and how those struggle towards overcoming this evil known. Interpreting the novel allegorically is difficult as there is no entire interpretation, however it can be interpreted as a symbol for the Nazi Occupation. This essay will discuss the possibilities of the allegorical interpretation of The Plague, the structure it produces and the problems linked to them. By doing this, it can be seen whether the book can be interpreted as Camus intended – a prefiguration of totalitarian regimes.
The original French version of the novel is titled “La Peste”, which is directly translated into The Plague. During WW2, the French referred to the Nazis as “La Peste brune” which translates to “the brown plague”. The brown refers to the brown uniform that the Nazis wore. By titling the novel the plague it provides a literal reading for the novel – a town struck by an epidemic of the plague. Subsequently, it also provides a subtle allegorical link because it links the book
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