The Plague

Questions of Existence and Fulfilment within Albert Camus’ The Plague College

““The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue...” (Camus, 1947: 127). Appearing in The Plague in 1947, this quote seeks to outline the gravity of human ignorance that besets the town of Oran and, perhaps, the whole of 20th century Europe. Yet Albert Camus’ landmark novel is more than a depiction of the dangers of ignorance. It is a lucid, dark account of human suffering, companionship, good, evil, and the search for justice beneath the thick layers of social and political complexity. Through the analysis of the literal, allegorical, and metaphysical intentions of the story, this paper will discuss how Camus’ affiliations with absurdist philosophy influenced his depiction of the main crisis in The Plague: an all-reaching sickness that represents the dangers of totalitarianism and the struggle of human beings in attempting to confront and deal with the problem of evil.

Camus’ influence was immense, not merely in the scope of his popularity but in the shocking relevance of his...

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