The Conflict Between Duty and Heroism in The Plague College
In The Plague itself, Albert Camus uses the concept of a plague to allegorically represent the wartime occupation of France during World War II and symbolize the absurdity of nature. The coastal town of Oran, located in Northern Africa, is burdened by this unstoppable pestilence that threatens the townspeople’s humanity. Camus’ “symbolic plague represents a multitude of ideas, but its purpose is to put humans to thought and action whereby they rise above themselves” (Payne). Despite the Absurdity of Oran’s state, Camus holds an optimistic view of human nature through his characters’ selfless struggle against death. However, in the case of The Plague, there is a significant distinction between heroism and duty. The ambiguity of Camus’ characters creates this conflict as they face an array of emotional, moral, ethical, legal, and religious challenges. The Plague demonstrates that duties do not always equate with heroics, because man is expected to support the common decency of a society.
The setting of Oran is introduced in the first paragraph of the novel; this locale is presented as a French port on the Algerian coast. This clarity sets the stage for the narrative while providing an actuality for the reader. Camus continues his...
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