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How do you focus on the importance of human nature in reference to the main characters...

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niss57 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 18, 2009 at 1:38 AM via web

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How do you focus on the importance of human nature in reference to the main characters of the novel of The Plague by Albert Camus?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:11 PM (Answer #1)

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What is so interesting about the bleak presentation of human nature in this novel is the way in which Camus presents the various characters in this text reacting to their situation. Rieux, the narrator of this text, comments on the impact of the exile and isolation that the plague causes on the inhabitants of this town in the following words:

That sensation of a void within which never left us, that irrational longing to hark back to the past or else to speed up the march of time, and those keen shafts of memory that stung like fire.

Many people respond in different ways to this isolation. Some begin to fantasise about imagining reunions with their loved ones, but then they slowly but surely begin to feel oppressed and entrapped as if they were prisoners locked up. Camus makes a profound comment about the essential nature of our human condition because of this, as the inhabitants of the town only have their past to focus on because of the bleak nature of their existence and the way that their future has no guarantees. As they are left with nothing except the past, they consider their past mistakes and the things that they are now unable to change or undo, and become filled with private griefs. This is the nature of humanity, as Camus in this powerful allegory paints a very depressing view of what life, from his perspective, is all about.

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