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Themes In Albert Camus' &Quot;The Plague.&Quot;

2461 words - 10 pages

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. The philosophy of moralism he formulated led to his ideas of the absurd, a state which can only exist if God is absent.

As World War II began, Camus moved to Paris where he completed one of his most famous works, The Stranger. However, in 1941 he returned to Oran, Algeria where he wrote The Myth of Sisyphus. In 1942, illness forced him to return to France and convalesce in the Massif-Central region where he published The Stranger. He remained in Southern France because of the allied invasion of North Africa and got separated from his wife in Algeria until after the liberation in 1944. During 1943, he joined the French Resistance and became a journalist at the resistance newspaper, Combat. France got liberated in 1944, Camus came into contact with many of the figures who would shape the moralist philosophies of his life: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Koestler, and Maria Casarès. He has also won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

France was invaded by Germany in 1940 and this resulted in a national humiliation. Some of the writers fled to spend the remaining years in exile, while others joined the French Resistance. After 1945, the Existentialists depicted man alone in a Godless world. Individuals were regarded as free to determine themselves through such choices. A pessimist mood characterised the early post-war years reflected in Jean Paul Sartre's philosophy of existentialism. This was the backdrop under which Camus wrote.

The Plague is classified under the genre of Impressionistic realism. There is no doubt that the book was written as an allegorical experience of the author living in German occupied France during the Second World War. The book is also read as, the occupation of Algeria by France. Another interpretation of the book is that the book is a critique of totalitarian communist ideology, in which the plague symbolises the repression of the people by a ruthless government machinery. My attempt in this paper, though, is to bring out the various themes present in the novel.

Through this book, Camus tries to portray man's fight against an all pervading and arbitrary enemy. The entire novel can be viewed as a statement about life and death, i.e. about human existence in general. As with his other novels, The Plague deals with conflicts and struggles, freedom and...

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