The Plague

Albert Camus

The Plague



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Set in the Algerian city of Oran in the 1940s, The Plague is considered one of Albert Camus’ greatest masterpieces, and one of the great literary classics of the 1900s. Divided into five parts, the novel recounts the sudden outbreak of a plague in the city of Oran, which is quickly isolated from the rest of the world, leaving the disease to run its course. The story is told by an anonymous narrator, and follows the events of several characters who all try to survive, each reacting to the plague in their own way. The book was probably written as a metaphor for the war following the Nazi occupation of France, and provides an insight into how we are ultimately able to find the strength to withstand a completely uncontrollable evil.

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Analysis and key concepts


Something truly extraordinary happens in the sleepy town of Oran


Disaster strikes for real, and Oran is isolated from the rest of the world


The people of Oran initially feel like they are on holiday, but eventually begin to feel isolated, angry, and resigned


Tarrou, Grand, Cottard, and Rambert all have different reactions


The scorching summer heat throws Oran into deep despair


The injustice of a senseless disease finally draws to an end


It is finally time to celebrate life in Oran, but not for everyone




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Observe the different reactions every human being has when faced with a great evil.
  • Realise that there are more good people in the world than bad.
  • Get to know one of the great classics of contemporary literature.

Albert Camus was a French novelist, essayist, and playwright. He was born in Algeria, and after his studies, began working as an actor and journalist. He rose to fame in 1942 with the novel, The Stranger, and the essay The Myth of Sisyphus, and achieved widespread public recognition in 1947 with The Plague. In 1957, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature for ‘illuminating the problems of the human conscience in our times’.

Publishing house:

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group