The Plague

Essay by larrybackman May 2004

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"The Plague" by Albert Camus is about a small town named Oran that becomes infected with a strange disease. Dr. Bernand Rieux, the protagonist, has the job of trying to figure out what is causing the disease and how to cure it. There is no real antagonist in this story, except for perhaps the disease itself.

The story starts with rats coming out into the opening and dying. At first, Dr. Rieux doesn't pay attention to the rats, but Raymond Rambert, a journalist, asks for Dr. Rieux's opinions on the problem. Later on, when Dr. Rieux goes to visit M. Michel, he finds out that he has a strange disease that causes his body to swell up. The public begins to worry as several other people suffer from this disease as well.

Dr. Rieux worries that the disease may be contagious so he insists that the people suffering from it be quarantined, but the officials are not willing to cooperate.

Upon further discussion, Rieux and Dr. Castel decide that the disease is probably the bubonic plague. Joseph Grand, a civil servant, is in charge of calculating the deaths and he reports that the number of deaths is on the rise.

Meanwhile, Rieux sends a request over to Paris for plague serum. While he waits, he decides to check on Cottard, who attempted to kill himself. Rieux finds Cottard extremely paranoid, but doesn't know why. The deaths continue to rise until the officials finally admits that the plague is a problem and quarantines the town. The citizens of Oran start to feel like prisoners in the town. They aren't allowed to leave the city or even send mail out and they obsess over their own misfortunes.

Rambert, the journalist who asks for Rieux's help earlier on, wants to...