The Real Plague Essay Research Paper The

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The Real Plague Essay, Research Paper The Real Plague Although never given permission to kill, by supernatural or natural means, man has reserved for himself the right to kill other men. This self-imposed right has been put into use in our civilizations and countries. Whether train of logic is offered or not, murder is very difficult to justify. As existentialists believe, “honesty with oneself” cannot be compromised in any shape or form. Why, then, does man murder? Perhaps man tries to use the excuse of good intentions to escape the responsibility for his actions. In Camus , The Plague, Jean Tarrou dares to go against the idea of men having the right to kill other men. He represents a small part of the general public, in both the novel and in real life. While most of the

character development is based on the direct conflict with the physical pestilence, Tarrou takes on a more powerful type of plague as well as this corporeal epidemic; his goal is not only of combating the plague which physically robs men of life, but to suppress the plague which ravages men s hearts, specially his own. To start a task force, one needs people. When Rieux and Tarrou converse, they discuss who to put into the task force. Rieux suggests that maybe Jean should consider using some of the prisoners in the jail to work against the plague. After dealing with plague-stricken men all his life, Tarrou rejects this proposal. Tarrou comments, “I loathe men s being condemned to death,” (125). Tarrou s reasoning for that not wanting prisoners to be used deviates from the

ordinary. While many would object to prisoners being sent out to work because they do not deserve to be set free. Tarrou has different reasons. Because the plague is equal to death, Tarrou would want no part in forcing men to take part in. He wants volunteers, “free men,”(124) to confront death, not impressed individuals. This reveals an important belief of his of man is to confront death, it should be by his own desires and choices, not by something which “fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill,” (131). Many people would believe that the prisoners deserve to die. After all, these men are the worst mankind has to offer, and the world may even be a better place without them. This is the type of rationale one uses to assume he “knows

everything.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the prisoners may hardly be considered virtuous, this does not give us the right to kill them, Tarrou believes. We do not know everything. It is not for us to decide whether a man can live or not. Only ignorance will allow us to escape this fact. To go into Tarrou s decision deeper, one should realize, Tarrou knows that the plague is impossible for him to defeat. Rieux makes this readily apparent to him, saying, “Have you weighed the dangers?” (125) Rieux, although respecting Tarrou s deed, makes sure Tarrou know what he is getting into. Because of existential philosophy, Tarrou has no choice but to fight against the plague. Cottard tells him that “the plague has the whip hand of you and there is nothing to be

done about it,” (157), which again infers that Tarrou s actions may prove fruitless. Cottard, the opposite of an existentialist, lets the circumstances govern his actions. Despite of this, Tarrou makes the decision to fight against the plague. We are given a more intimate view of Tarrou s repudiation for the plague when we study Tarrou s opinion of Othon who may have the most severe case of plague in the novel. Serving as magistrate, Othon s ignorance leads him to believe that he “knows everything and therefore claims for [him]self the right to kill,” (131). Othon has the power to sentence a human to death. Where did this power come from? We can only hypothesize it the base of it is “ignorance,” (131). After all, Tarrou believes there is no way to justify condemning a