Tarrou, the Plague's Only Hero in The Plague by Albert Campus

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 1993

download word file, 3 pages 3.3

Downloaded 81 times
Keywords , , , ,

In 'The Plague', Albert Camus pits humanity against an unstoppable force of nature: the bubonic plague. He creates a variety of characters who all deal with the plague in their own way, but only Tarrou acts heroically. Rieux comes close to a hero, but he fights the plague because it's expected of him and shows indifference at the end of the book. Besides Rieux and Tarrou, none of the other characters show any heroism or resistance to the plague, except the sanitation squad under Tarrou. Through Tarrou alone, Camus asks the reader how to heroically deal with death. Tarrou also provides an example of heroes who get crushed by fate for defiance. For these reasons, only Tarrou can be considered a hero.

All the characters except Rieux and Tarrou can't be considered heroes. Paneloux believes in sainthood and God, but he offers no resistance to the plague since he believes it was divinely sent.

Rambert chooses to run from the problem rather than face it. McCarthy also points out that he neglects his basic duty as a reporter by failing to record anything (109); a duty which Rieux and Tarrou fulfill. Grand produces two sentences and does nothing to fight the plague, which McCarthy interprets as a parody of Rieux's inability to explain the plague (109-10). Cottard wholeheartedly embraces the plague, revels in it, and attempts to profit from it. The rest of the people either waste their time, waiting for the end (the old man spitting on the cats, the bean-counter, etc.) or join the sanitation squad, under Tarrou. Nobody takes a stand and resists death except Rieux and Tarrou.

Rieux and Tarrou do seem to show the same level of heroism. Both resist the plague, both are symbolically cleansed in the river, and both record the...