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The Plague Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd, Existentialism, Humanism
The philosophical viewpoints The Plague deals with are the absurd, existentialism, and humanism. Yes, that’s a lot of philosophies, and the novel combines various elements of each: the absurd...
When a town on the corner of the Mediterranean is stricken with an outbreak of the plague, death is a main concern. Everyone is forced to live as though their life may be snatched from them at any...
Suffering is paramount in The Plague. We watch how characters react to, cope with, and learn from hardship. This last one is particularly important; one character goes so far as to cite suffering a...
Language and Communication
In The Plague, language is often inaccurate and always inadequate. The inability of a given person to express his meaning is a fundamental concern of the novel. Because terms (such as "saintliness"...
Much like love, duty is tricky in The Plague, especially when you run into the notion of conflicting or competing obligations. Which is higher, the duty to the state, or to a marriage? To an indivi...
Freedom and Confinement
The Plague tells the story of a town in quarantine for an outbreak of the plague. Issues of confinement and exile are hugely important to the tale. But what does it mean to be trapped? This novel r...
The Plague, like many works in a similar philosophical vein, treats religion at best with indifference and at worst with contempt. Religion seeks to explain the world’s suffering and rational...
One character in The Plague, Jean Tarrou, has strong opinions on the death penalty, calling it murder and is so troubled by the concept that he actively rallies against it. He considers lawyers to...
The narrator of The Plague is obsessed with reaching objective truth. So much so, in fact, that he describes himself in the third person and won’t even tell us which character he is until the...
Love is tricky business – especially in The Plague. Love for mankind drives some to sacrifice their own well-being in fighting for the good of society, while love for individuals threatens to...
Camus and his philosopher buddies were definitely interested in matters of time: how to understand it, how to think about it, and most importantly what to do with it. The Plague urges all of us to...
Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
Hope evolves throughout the course of The Plague. At first, the hope that the plague will quickly dissipate on its own is injurious, as the citizens rely on their wishful thinking instead of taking...
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