Othon treats his wife and children unkindly, but after his son dies of the plague, his character softens. "The Plague" is a famous allegorical novel by Albert Camus, who's known for his existential works. After Jacques dies, Othon volunteers to stay in the isolation camp – even after his own period of quarantine is up – because it makes him feel closer to his son. For other uses, see, Camus (in Thody, 1970):345. Asked by bookragstutor. The Plague He befriends some underground criminals so that they may smuggle him out of the city. The book begins with an epigraph quoting Daniel Defoe, author of A Journal of the Plague Year. The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran. Part 1 M. Othon A police magistrate of Oran who is strict and severe with everyone, including his children. In the town of Oran, thousands of rats, initially unnoticed by the populace, begin to die in the streets. Jacques Othon Jacques is M. Othon's small son. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. "[16], This article is about the novel by Albert Camus. The town gates are shut, rail travel is prohibited, and all mail service is suspended. Or in this case, Othon doesn’t care what the laws are as long as he can sentence the men who break them. [4][5] The novel stresses the powerlessness of the individual characters to affect their destinies, the very pith of absurdism. By late January the plague is in full retreat, and the townspeople begin to celebrate the imminent opening of the town gates. Rats that are infected with a vicious disease known as “the plague” invade the city and nearly wipe out half of the population. Tall and dark, M. Othon had something of the air of what used to be called a man of the world, and something of an undertaker's assistant. Deaths aside, the town gates are opened and Rambert is finally reunited with his "wife" from Paris. Asked by bookragstutor. The narrative tone is similar to Kafka's, especially in The Trial, whose individual sentences potentially have multiple meanings; the material often pointedly resonating as stark allegory of phenomenal consciousness and the human condition. An old man, he is the first victim of the plague. [1], Camus used as source material the cholera epidemic that killed a large proportion of Oran's population in 1849, but situated the novel in the 1940s. [8], Thomas L Hanna and John Loose have separately discussed themes related to Christianity in the novel, with particular respect to Father Paneloux and Dr Rieux. Homes are quarantined; corpses and burials are strictly supervised. So it’s up for grabs.Oh, and make sure you check out "Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory" for fun with owls (and M. Othon). M Othon informs Tarrou that his Mme Othon is “under suspicion” for having taken care of her mother who has succumbed to plague. A few days after the sermon, Paneloux is taken ill. His symptoms do not conform to those of the plague, but the disease still proves fatal. The Plague is considered an existentialist classic despite Camus' objection to the label. An old man, he is the first victim of the plague. Grand begins working on his novel again. He is tall and thin and, as Tarrou observes in his journal, "his small, beady eyes, narrow nose, and hard, straight mouth make him look like a well-brought-up owl." There are still some deaths (M. Othon, Rieux's wife, and worst of all, Tarrou), but it's ending. The streetcars were always packed at the rush hours, empty and untidy during the rest of the day. M. Othon: M. Othon is a magistrate in Oran. After he contracts the plague, he is the first to receive some of Dr. Castel's plague serum. Dr. Rieux consults his colleague, Dr. Castel, about the illness until they come to the conclusion that a plague is sweeping the town. A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus' novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature. The Plague, by Albert Camus, is a vivid description of a horrid epidemic. ", "Plague Reappearance in Algeria after 50 Years, 2003", "The Plague review – Neil Bartlett's ingenious update of Camus' chilling fable", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Plague&oldid=996503493, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with French-language sources (fr), Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz work identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 December 2020, at 00:23. [11] Elwyn Sterling has analysed the role of Cottard and his final actions at the end of the novel. A gripping tale of human unrelieved horror, of survival and resilience, and of the ways in which humankind confronts death, The Plague is at once a masterfully crafted novel, eloquently understated and epic in scope, and a parable of ageless moral resonance, profoundly relevant to our times. It seems that Dr. … Raoul When he contracts the plague, he is the first to receive Dr. Castel's anti-plague serum. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. But the serum is ineffective, and the boy dies after a long and painful struggle. To us, this sounds great – but how would it sound to Camus? Cottard becomes unhinged at the thought that he will soon have no one to suffer with him. What insights can we discover from Camus’ novel, The Plague, about moral motivations? Rambert is reunited with his wife. Last updated by Jill D on 29 Jun 12:49 Answers: 1. Cottard and Tarrou attend a performance of Gluck's opera Orpheus and Eurydice, but the actor portraying Orpheus collapses with plague symptoms during the performance. MCCANN, J. The Plague study guide contains a biography of Albert Camus, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. His second sermon is an interesting variation on … In this coronavirus pandemic, their responses are mirrored by todays officials. At the end of October, M. Othon’s son is treated unsuccessfully for the plague and dies. And that is something we must all accept. He begins a gun fight in town and soon his taken into custody by the police. After extended negotiations with guards, Rambert finally has a chance to escape, but he decides to stay, saying that he would feel ashamed of himself if he left. M. Othon: M. Othon is a judge in the city of Oran. He contracts the plague and dies. Asked by bookragstutor. M. Michel. When the daily number of deaths jumps to 30, the town is sealed, and an outbreak of plague is officially declared. Another character, Father Paneloux, uses the plague as an opportunity to advance his stature in the town by suggesting that the plague was an act of God punishing the citizens' sinful nature. Cottard went his usual desultory ways, and M. Othon, the magistrate, continued to parade his menagerie. The narrator of the chronicle says that he is Dr. Rieux and states that he tried to present an objective view of the events. However, Grand makes an unexpected recovery, and deaths from the plague start to decline. One character, Raymond Rambert, devises a plan to escape the city to join his wife in Paris after city officials refused his request to leave. The use of telephone lines is restricted only to "urgent" calls, leaving short telegrams as the only means of communicating with friends or family outside the town. © 2021 Shmoop University Inc | All Rights Reserved | Privacy | Legal. According to an academic study, Oran was decimated by the bubonic plague in 1556 and 1678, but all later outbreaks (in 1921: 185 cases; 1931: 76 cases; and 1944: 95 cases) were very far from the scale of the epidemic described in the novel.[3]. The book was published in 1947 and is considered one of the most important works by Camus. Authorities responding to public pressure order the collection and cremation of the rats, unaware that the collection itself was the catalyst for the spread of the bubonic plague. The Plague. Tarrou tells Rieux the story of his life and, to take their mind off the epidemic, the two men go swimming together in the sea. After the death of his son, some gentleness appears in Othon’s character, but he dies of plague … Towards the end of October, Castel's new antiplague serum is tried for the first time, but it cannot save the life of Othon's young son, who suffers greatly, as Paneloux, Rieux, and Tarrou tend to his bedside in horror. When Tarrou, Gonzales, and Rambert visit the stadium-turned-isolation-camp at the outskirts of town, they discover that M. Othon is the manager. Last updated by Jill D on 29 Jun 12:48 Answers: 1. On the other hand, if he’s using his grief positively to take care of others, the humanists wouldn’t exactly whack him on the nose for fighting against suffering for the good of man. Cottard goes mad and shoots at people from his home, and is soon arrested after a brief skirmish with the police. Cottard is distressed by the ending of the epidemic from which he has profited by shady dealings. Although, sure, we guess, Othon is a magistrate, so he deals more with the sentencing part than with the laws themselves. She comes to visit her son during the first days of the plague. Rieux is alone, reveals that he was the narrator this whole time (gasp! In September and October, the town remains at the mercy of the plague. When Othon expresses satisfaction at the "ordinary laws" being well-obeyed, Tarrou counters that they just seem acceptable given the current situation. Here are some memorable quotes from the novel. As the death toll begins to rise, more desperate measures are taken. Germaine Brée has characterised the struggle of the characters against the plague as "undramatic and stubborn", and in contrast to the ideology of "glorification of power" in the novels of André Malraux, whereas Camus' characters "are obscurely engaged in saving, not destroying, and this in the name of no ideology". Cottard went his usual desultory ways, and M. Othon, the magistrate, continued to parade his menagerie. Jacques Othon: The son of M. Othon, Jacques Othon dies after he receives a failed anti-plague serum. He is tall and thin and, as Tarrou observes in his journal, "his small, beady eyes, narrow nose, and hard, straight mouth make him look like a well-brought-up owl." It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. The novel presents a snapshot of life in Oran as seen through the author's distinctive absurdist point of view. Check out the conversation between these two men. Tarrou and Rambert visit one of the isolation camps, where they meet Othon. The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story from the point of view of a narrator of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran. The Plague He treats his wife and children unkindly, but after his son dies of the plague, his character softens. Grand hurried home every evening to his mysterious literary activities. This disease takes a toll on the citizens of Oran, which make them turn on each other and for some, they question the existence of God. Meanwhile, Jean Tarrou, a vacationer; Joseph Grand, a civil engineer; and Dr. Rieux, exhaustively treat patients in their homes and in the hospital. The quiet crowd which suddenly breaks into a shrill crying stampede is triggered by the realization that the actor has thrust his arms and legs into the plague victims' strained, splayed last thrust for life. Jacques Othon:Jacques Othon is M. Othon's young son. They both approach fellow doctors and town authorities about their theory but are eventually dismissed on the basis of one death. This is best done by focusing one character (perhaps two, but not more—for the sake of focus). As we know, Tarrou has it in for men of the justice system, men like police magistrates, which Othon is. Two government employees approach him, and he flees. The separation affects daily activity and depresses the spirit of the townspeople, who begin to feel isolated and introverted, and the plague begins to affect various characters. But what really seems to get Tarrou’s goat, what prompts him to call Othon "Enemy Number One," is the magistrate’s statement that "It’s not the law that counts, it’s the sentence. Pneumonic plague (as opposed to bubonic) means the disease attacks the lungs, and can be spread through the air instead of by infected fleas. In mid-August, the situation continues to worsen. The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story of a plague sweeping the Algerian city of Oran. Finally, there is M. Othon, the magistrate of Oran. Fewer and fewer people die each day, and Oran begins to beat the plague. The inhabitants passively endure their increasing feelings of exile and separation. Tarrou is also quite interested in Rieux’s old asthmatic patient, who is voluntarily bed-ridden and wastes time gleefully like it’s his job. Jacques Othon is M. Othon's young son. Othon treats his wife and children unkindly, but after his son dies of the plague, his character softens. Fighting the plague is an affirmation of the human will to survive while the paralysis of fear and escapism are acts of surrender. M. Othon does catch the plague and dies as does Tarrou, yet Tarrou struggles and fights until the disease takes him in the end. Cottard, on the other hand, seems to flourish during the plague because it gives him a sense of being connected to others, since everybody faces the same danger. “The Narrator as Special Pleader. A supply of plague serum finally arrives, but there is enough to treat only existing cases, and the country's emergency reserves are depleted. The novel reveals the feelings of the people that experienced the disaster of living in a plague stricken tone. This novel appeals to the emotions of the reader, and leaves the reader thinking about love, death, and freedom. The town is sealed off. M. Michel: M. Michel is the concierge of the building in which Rieux lives. Is Othon portrayed positively or negatively by this reaction? Part 1 (99% in) M. Othon, the magistrate , assured Dr. Rieux that he had found the preacher's arguments "absolutely irrefutable. By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Shmoop and verify that you are over the age of 13. What follows is my attempt to engage with the text on this level. Prefect: The Prefect is also reluctant to act swiftly to fight the plague. M. Othon today lives in officials who passively and helplessly wait for what will unfold next, … He also hardens his heart regarding the plague victims so that he can continue to do his work. A "special ward" is opened at the hospital, but its 80 beds are filled within three days. Tarrou, a mysterious guy, records more journal entries. Cottard, a criminal remorseful enough to attempt suicide but fearful of being arrested, becomes wealthy as a major smuggler. Grand catches the plague and instructs Rieux to burn all his papers. ... M. Othon tells Tarrou his wife is in quarantine but does not change his own habits. The Plague Who is M. Othon in The Plague by Albert Camus? Such people include M. Othon (sad), Jean Tarrou (catastrophically sad), and Rieux’s absent, invalid wife (we didn’t really know her that well). Madame Rieux The mother of Dr. Rieux. This is a fuzzy existentialism vs. humanism line. "What an odd statement! His diatribe falls on the ears of many citizens of the town, who turned to religion in droves but would not have done so under normal circumstances. When he contracts the plague, he is the first to receive Dr. Castel's anti-plague serum. In February, the town gates open and people are reunited with their loved ones from other cities. [2] Oran and its surroundings were struck by disease several times before Camus published his novel. Paneloux cannot produce a moral or rational explanation for an innocent child's horrible death. M. (Monsieur) Othon is hovering on the border of minor character land, but Jean Tarrou’s interest in him knocks him over the edge and makes him worth talking about. [12], The novel has been read as an allegorical treatment of the French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II. It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. In Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, the plague begins as a series of portents The narrator remains unknown until the start of the last chapter, chapter 5 of part 5. [6] Lulu Haroutunian has discussed Camus' own medical history, including a bout with tuberculosis, and how it informs the novel. Near the end of October, Dr. Castel's new anti-plague serum is ready to test. Rambert informs Tarrou of his escape plan, but when Tarrou tells him that there are others in the city, including Dr. Rieux, who have loved ones outside the city whom they are not allowed to see, Rambert becomes sympathetic and offers to help Rieux fight the epidemic until he leaves town. Authorities, including the Prefect, are slow to accept that the situation is serious and quibble over the appropriate action to take. Rieux hears from the sanatorium that his wife's condition is worsening. But this gets at what Tarrou would probably consider the arbitrary and absurd nature of law: people don’t care what the laws themselves are, as long as they are followed. In one sense, Othon shouldn’t really be dwelling on the past (that is, those that are dead) and wasting his time in mourning. [13], As early as April 1941, Camus had been working on the novel, as evidenced in his diaries in which he wrote down a few ideas on "the redeeming plague". The Death of a Child in La Peste.” Orbis Litterarum LVI (2001): 399-416. Othon, however, does not escape death from the disease. The Plague by Albert Camus takes place in an Algerian city known as Oran. The Plague Who is M. Michel in The Plague by Albert Camus? Rieux is later informed via telegram that his wife has also died. This is ironic because there is no reason for anyone in the city to be suspected more than others of being contaminated with plague. “Sur ‘le fils de M. Othon’ dans La Peste.” Études de Langue et de Littérature françaises de l’Université de Hiroshima 27 (2008): 34-41. MCCARTHY, P. “The Use of Narrative in The Plague.” Hysteria develops soon afterward, causing the local newspapers to report the incident. He inquires about the death of his son Jacques and whether the child suffered very much before he passed away. The main character, Dr. Bernard Rieux, lives comfortably in an apartment building when strangely the building's concierge, M. Michel, a confidante, dies from a fever. Despite the epidemic's ending, Tarrou contracts the plague and dies after a heroic struggle. [9][10] Louis R Rossi briefly discusses the role of Tarrou in the novel, and the sense of philosophical guilt behind his character. [7] Marina Warner has noted the lack of female characters and the total absence of Arab characters in the novel, but also notes its larger philosophical themes of "engagement", "paltriness and generosity", "small heroism and large cowardice", and "all kinds of profoundly humanist problems, such as love and goodness, happiness and mutual connection". Discover that M. Othon, the plague '' is opened at the of! Discover from Camus ’ the plague by Albert Camus are eventually dismissed on the basis of one.! Last chapter, chapter 5 of part 5 sake of focus ) of Oran but fearful of contaminated! Thought that he will soon m othon the plague no one to suffer with him but are eventually dismissed the! 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Mail service is suspended is about the novel reveals the feelings of the situation with the text this... 'S known for his existential works a second sermon families of the epidemic 's,. Finally, there is an epidemic reveals that he can continue to his! Looting break out on a small scale, and the authorities respond by declaring law. A moral or rational explanation for an unrelated chronic illness character softens after a brief skirmish the!