The Bubonic Plague: A Literary Analysis

2323 Words10 Pages
In his short life of only 46 years, Albert Camus lived through World War I, World War II, and the Spanish Civil War, all of which affected his opinion towards fascism greatly. He saw nazism and fascism run rampant throughout his life, and we can see how he came to hate dictatorship and oppression.
Albert Camus was a French-Algerian novelist, essayist, dramatist, and journalist as well as a Nobel laureate, but it was a long ride before he achieved all of this. After his father was killed in WWI, Camus was raised in a poor suburb of Algiers. He was forced to end his studies and limit his life in theatre as a playwright, director, and actor due to tuberculosis, which he contracted at only seventeen years old. He was obviously an intelligent man
…show more content…
Albert Camus’ The Plague is a novel about one of those recurring pestilences, the Bubonic Plague, that crops up again for some unexplained reason in an Algerian town. On the surface, the story is about a devastating illness that shows no mercy; however, the Bubonic Plague is actually a recurring symbol for the political ideology that Camus detested most ferociously: fascism. The plague results in the quarantine of all citizens in the town, therefore restricting their freedoms, and restricts the everyday lives of each person in the town without any consent, just as a fascist dictator would. Camus utilizes the allegory of the plague to argue that fascism is wrong because it robs people of certain unalienable rights, and that fascism will pop up again at some point, and people should feel obligated to fight against it. He argues this mainly through the portrayal of the protagonist, Dr. Rieux, and his personal call to duty, the portrayal of the absurd and its effect on Dr. Rieux, and through his theme that people have a moral (non-religious) obligation to stand up against absurd plagues such as…show more content…
Bernard Rieux faces three main calls to duty in The Plague. He is the doctor who is leading the charge against the plague, he is the husband of a very ill wife, and he is the recorder of objective observations and the narrator. In many instances throughout the duration of the plague, even before it has been officially recognized as an epidemic, Dr. Rieux clearly goes willingly beyond what he is expected to do as a doctor, even before the onset of the plague. For example, Dr. Rieux treats Cottard for “a constriction of the aorta” (18) without receiving any form of payment. It is also revealed that just hours prior to the official declaration of the outbreak of plague, Dr. Rieux considered himself in “high time to put the brakes on and try and get his nerves into some sort of order;”(31) which could be understood as the sentiments of an overworked man. However, Dr. Rieux surmounts his exhaustion and pushes on to combat the plague. Dr. Rieux remains at the forefront on the battle of the plague as it escalates and the number of deaths rises. He tells Jean Tarrou that “For the moment [he] know[s] this: there are sick people and they need curing”

More about The Bubonic Plague: A Literary Analysis

Open Document