Get help from the best in academic writing.

Essay on the Power of Language in The Plague

The Power of Language in The Plague

In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus presents a pseudo-historical documentary of a plague that confines and controls the citizens of Oran within their city gates. The plague possesses the power of life and death over the people, as it determines which citizens will face their death or those who work to stop death. These latter men, personified by the character’s of Rieux, Grand, and Tarrau, each struggle endlessly to master the plague’s power over their lives, even with the realization they may never succeed. For Camus, this idea of “impossible struggle” against an unseen power resonates throughout the novel and reoccurs in another “plague” which these men must contend – the limits of human language. Camus’s characters place great emphasis and importance upon the power of language and lament their inability to express themselves clearly. As a result, Camus establishes that human language, like the plague, possesses an elusive power in determining the lives of these men even as they struggle to master and control it. Camus demonstrate this first through his description of Rieux’s struggle to choose words carefully as he recognizes their power to both define and control his work. Next Camus establishes the power of words in his comical yet poignant portrayal of Grand, whose inability to “find the right words” stifles and confines both his work and his marriage (p.42). Lastly, Camus elaborates upon this power of words through the actions of Tarrau who directly links the misuse of words with the power to kill.

For Dr. Bernard Rieux, the use of human language will eventually help define his work. Therefore he struggles to choose his words carefully. When being asked to describe the mysteri…

… middle of paper …

…termine events in human life even when the speaker works to prevent this. Thus, he establishes once again the power of language over people who can be conscious of language’s power but never completely control this power in human life.

Through his portrayal of Rieux, Grand, And Tarrau, Camus depicts the power of language as each attempt to master and are mastered by it. In doing so Camus pays tribute to language and makes The Plague a commentary on the artistic process, as Camus himself struggles with language in his career as a writer. Thus Camus’s novel also serves as a fable of the written word, as writer’s must struggle to master the language in their writings. For Camus, the moral of the story warns the reader to be careful when choosing his words as each has potential power to control lives.

Works Cited:

Camus, Albert, The Plague. Vintage: NY, 1991.

The Imagery of Bloodshed in The Oresteia

The Imagery of Bloodshed in The Oresteia

In the prologue of Agamemnon, the first play of Aeschylus’ trilogy, The

Oresteia, the watchman implores the gods for “a blessed end to all our

pain.” (20). He is asking for deliverance from the retributive system of

justice, where the only certainty is that bloodshed breeds more bloodshed.

The old men of the chorus in their opening chant, “Hymn to Zeus,” declare

that suffering must be experienced before man can be released from this

ceaseless irredeemable bloodshed and thus be, “free from all the pain.” (1)

They declare that it is a law laid down by Zeus “that we must suffer,

suffer into truth./ We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart/ the

pain of pain remembered comes again,/ and we resist, but ripeness comes as

well.” (177-184) Eventually, as the more and more of the agony of

remembered pain, the blood, drips away from the heart, there will be

“ripeness.” The blood will be transformed from pain into a deliverance

from the blood vendetta.

Throughout the Oresteia, there is a transformation

in Aeschylus’ use of blood imagery. In Agamemnon, he uses it to illustrate

the suffering and hopelessness that arise out of the vendetta system of

justice. Then, in The Libation Bearers, he continues use of the imagery as

the bloody cycle continues and also uses it to testify to the beginnings of

the search for a deliverance from all the bloodshed. Finally, in The

Eumenides, through a change in the pattern of the imagery, Aeschylus

illuminates the deliverance and “ripeness” brought forth by a new order

that breaks the cycle of blood deeds.

In Agamemnon, Aeschylus presents the sufferi…

… middle of paper …

…caused by the

retributive system of justice. Aeschylus illustrates this process of

deliverance through the imagery of bloodshed . In Agamemnon, he uses it to

illustrate the hopelessness that results from the futile and unending cycle

of the blood vendetta. In The Libation Bearers, he uses the imagery to

further illuminate the impossibility of redeeming bloodshed and to testify

to the beginnings of the search for deliverance. Finally, in The Eumenides,

the images of bloodshed are transformed into ones of “ripeness” testifying

that a blessed end to all the pain can be found in a resolution between the

ancient vendetta and the new social order.

Works Cited

Aeschylus. Aeschylus, The Oresteia A New Translation for the Theater by Aeschylus,. Translated by Wendy Doniger and David Greene. University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.