Albert Camus' Philosophy in The Plague Essay example

Albert Camus' Philosophy in The Plague Essay example

Length: 2837 words (8.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Albert Camus' Philosophy in The Plague

To know ourselves diseased is half our cure. - Alexander Pope

As the title clearly suggests, the novel The Plague is, indeed, a story of disease. On the surface, the novel The Plague, may be an accounting of facts detailing the outbreak of bubonic plague in the town of Oran. But on a deeper level, it is a novel that reveals awareness and acceptance of the limits of human existence. And it is also a reminder of our absurd freedom and the choices we make in life, especially when facing death.

In writing The Plague we are told that Camus "sought to convey [...] the feeling of suffocation from which we all suffered and the atmosphere of threat and exile in which we lived" (Bree, 1964:128). He was, of course, speaking of the horrors of World War II. But "at the same time [he wanted] to extend [his] interpretation to the notion of existence in general" (Bree, 1964:128).

Camus' interpretation of existence is revealed in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus in which he discusses the absurd and its consequences, revolt, freedom and passion. Some interesting connections can be made between the philosophical discussion in The Myth of Sisyphus and the existential themes found in The Plague. In The Myth, Camus outlines his notion of the absurd and its consequences; in The Plague he brings his philosophy to life.

This tale of life and death is told by Dr. Rieux, who maintains that his "business is only to say 'this is what happened', when he knows that it actually did happen, [and] that it closely affected the life of a whole populace [...]" (Camus, The Plague, p.7). Of the novel, Germaine Bree says,

"considered in its totality [The Plague] transmits a personal experience ...

... middle of paper ...

..., one way or another, and The Plague is a reminder of that absurd fact.

The quote at the beginning of this paper, "To know ourselves diseased is half our cure" has its relevance in the ultimate lesson we learn from The Plague. But there is another lesson to be learned and Camus reminds us of it in The Myth of Sisyphus: "the point is to live" (Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, p.65). While facing the horrors of death, the characters in The Plague do an excellent job of bringing that philosophical point to life.

Works Cited

Bree, Germaine. (ed.), Camus: Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice-Hall: Englewood, NJ. 1962.

Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Camus, Albert, The Plague. Vintage: NY, 1991.

Ellison, David R. Understanding Albert Camus. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Plague By Albert Camus

- The Plague by Albert Camus takes place in an Algerian city known as Oran. Rats that are infected with a vicious disease known as “the plague” invade the city and nearly wipe out half of the population. This disease takes a toll on the citizens of Oran, which make them turn on each other and for some, they question the existence of God. Religion plays a huge roll in The Plague and Camus speaks through his characters and incorporates his views on religion. Camus uses Father Paneloux, the priest in the city, to argue whether or not God is the reason for this chaos....   [tags: Albert Camus, Absurdism, The Plague, God]

Powerful Essays
1742 words (5 pages)

Essay on Existentialism and Albert Camus' The Plague

- Existentialism and The Plague    In the mid 1940s, a man by the name of Albert Camus began to write a story. This story he called La Pesté. Written in French, the novel became extremely popular and has since been translated numerous times into many languages. This story has been read over and over, yet it tells more than it seems to. This story tells the tale of a city gripped by a deadly disease. This is true enough, but this is not what the novel is about. The Plague can be read as an allegory of World War II, of the French Resistance against German Occupation....   [tags: Albert Camus Plague Essays]

Powerful Essays
3953 words (11.3 pages)

The Plague by Albert Camus Essay

- Running Out of Time Time is only running out, and it is one of the most vital and overlooked qualities of life. Albert Camus highlights the theme of time in his 1947 novel, The Plague. Through the use of allegory and point of view, Camus substantiates that when people are not aware of time and its advancing, they are wasting the precious and limited time of their lives. He constantly establishes that the amount of consciousness obtained by a person is the difference between spending time wisely and foolishly....   [tags: absurdism, imprisonment]

Powerful Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Themes in Albert Camus' "The Plague." Essay

- Albert Camus was born on the 7th of November 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria to Lucien Camus, whose family had settled in Algeria in 1871, and Catherine Sintes, of Spanish origin. During Camus' high school years, he met Jean Grenier, the man who would influence Camus' career to the greatest extent by opening his mind to the philosophy of thinkers such as Nietzsche and Bergson. He and Grenier focused much of their writing on the duality of mortality. Still achieving highly at school, Camus received his diploma from the University in philosophy in 1936, examining the legacies and conflicts of thought in his thesis, which would later inhabit his works....   [tags: European Literature]

Powerful Essays
1798 words (5.1 pages)

Albert Camus and His Views on Existentialism Essay

- Albert Camus is considered one of the greatest existentialist writers of all time. However, although he was considered an existentialist writer, Camus never labeled himself as an existentialist. “No, I am not an existentialist”  (Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970)) Camus rejected in an 1945 interview, however in some of his literary works, some find that his writings are one of a true existentialistic thinker. Although many contrast these thoughts and believe that Camus was anything but a thinker of this philosophy, Camus is one of the main authors that people turn to research and read to understand the thinking of existentialism....   [tags: Existentialist Writer]

Powerful Essays
1002 words (2.9 pages)

Existentialism in Albert Camus' The Plague and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

- All of the characters in The Plague and Waiting For Godot exist in their fictional worlds. However, none is able to explain why. Neither work gives the reader an explanation of human existence except to say that humans exist. Providing an answer to the question of existence would constitute a paradox. To an existentialist, if you answer the question, then you've missed the whole point. Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts (Bigelow 134)....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
956 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Understanding Albert Camus' The Plague

- Understanding The Plague The Plague, written by Albert Camus, is a triumph of literary craft. Camus created a commentary on the way humans react to trying situations and circumstances in his fictional city of Oran in North Africa. The reader is presented with Oran as a city of several hundred thousand people. All of whom seem to take life for granted. The people of Oran ar constantly driven by business or money and only stop for life's finer pleasures on the weekends. A fairly accurate parallel to today's world....   [tags: Albert Camus Plague Essays]

Free Essays
757 words (2.2 pages)

Essay about Finding Meaning in Albert Camus’ The Plague

- Finding Meaning in Albert Camus’ The Plague Socrates, a Greek philosopher, once said that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology 38b). Like Socrates, Albert Camus believed that a man needs to live meaningfully. In his novel The Plague Camus creates characters who are forced to think, reflect, and assume responsibility for living as they battle an epidemic of bubonic plague that is ravaging the Algerian port of Oran. For ten months as the outbreak isolates the city from the rest of the world, each of the citizens reacts in a unique way....   [tags: Albert Camus Plague Essays]

Powerful Essays
1281 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Inexperienced Minds in Albert Camus' The Plague

- Inexperienced Minds in The Plague   The town itself, let us admit, is ugly. These are the words of Dr. Bernard Rieux, the narrator of Albert Camus The Plague. His accurate, unexaggerated descriptions of a town’s sufferings, bring the novel to life. The town of Oran becomes afflicted with a plague, and Rieux, the town doctor, watches the town quickly die away. He joins forces with Jean Tarrou, Raymond Rambert, Joseph Grand, and Father Paneloux, hoping to defeat the unbeatable enemy. The quarantined town ultimately defeats the disease, but not before incredible losses are suffered....   [tags: Albert Camus Plague Essays]

Powerful Essays
1930 words (5.5 pages)

Essay about Camus: The Life and Writings of Absurdity

- Camus: The Life and Writings of Absurdity      Camus was born in a small town in eastern Algiers on November 7, 1913. His father (Lucien August Camus) died in 1914 after being shot in the Battle of Marne in W.W.I. Camus was raised by his mother (Catherine Helene Sintes Camus) until he was seventeen, in a working-class section of town. "Sintes," his mother's maiden name was also Raymond Sintes' last name in the novel The Stranger. She was illiterate and became partially deaf after she was widowed....   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]

Free Essays
3457 words (9.9 pages)