The Plague Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stuart Gilbert's translation.
That the regulations now in force were inadequate was lamentably clear. As for the "specially equipped" wards, he knew what they amounted to: two outbuildings from which the other patients had been hastily evacuated, whose windows had been hermetically sealed, and round which a sanitary cordon had been set. The only hope was that the outbreak would die a natural death; it certainly wouldn’t be arrested by the measures the authorities had so far devised. (1.8.75)
Hope is not only futile, but destructive as well. Because people can rely on hoping for the plague to die on its own, they don’t take the necessary measures to prevent the spread of disease.
But when making such remarks, we felt none of the passionate yearning or fierce resentment of the early phase; we merely voiced one of the few clear ideas that lingered in the twilight of our minds. The furious revolt of the first weeks had given place to a vast despondency, not to be taken for resignation, though it was none the less a sort of passive and provisional acquiescence. (3.1.26)
People are starting to lose hope – is this portrayed as a positive evolution or a negative degeneration?
As to what that exile and that longing for reunion meant, Rieux had no idea. But […] he was thinking it has no importance whether such things have or have not a meaning; all we need consider is the answer given to men’s hope.
Henceforth he knew the answer […]. Those who […] had set their hearts solely on […] their love […] for some time, anyhow […] would be happy. […] If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.
But for those who had aspired above and beyond the human individual […], there had been no answer. (5.4.13-15)
Again we see that Rieux has learned from the plague. Actually, it looks more like he learned simply in the process of relating his narrative, since this point of view differs from that at the beginning of the novel. While he may have once blindly condemned hope, he now possess a more nuanced understanding of it – hope isn’t inherently destructive, as long as we hope for that which is attainable: human love.