The Plague by Albert Camus: An Analysis.
At periodic intervals throughout history, the Pasteurella pestis bacillus has wrought largescale devastation on human populations. For example, in Europe during the fourteenth century, a P. pestis epidemic occurred which was known as the Black Death. Different forms of these infections vary both in their presentation and prognosis. As vividly illustrated in Albert Camus' The Plague, however, the ultimate result of these diseases can be rapid death. In the past, local outbreaks of plague typically caused government authorities to impose severe restrictions on affected populations. While these regulations may have prevented widespread dispersal of the disease, they also resulted in significant sociopsychodynamic effects.
At the present time, the annual morbidity and mortality caused by the plague are not great. In the United States, for instance, only a few cases typically occur every year and, among these, the disease is not usually fatal (Stark et al., 1967, p. 8). However, the recurrence of localized outbreaks of plague serves as a continuous reminder of the disease's pathogenic potential (Bahmanyar & Cavanaugh, 1976, p. 1). Perhaps the most famous outbreak of plague occurred between the years 13461400. During this period, the epidemic which spread across Europe came to be known as the Black Death. In Great Britain, onehalf to twothirds of the population perished. Indeed, onefourth of Europe's entire population, or 25 million people may have succumbed; in addition, their were millions of fatalities in Asia as well (Pollitzer, 1954, p. 14). Such massive reductions in the human population had widespread consequences. For example, in Europe, the epidemic initiated a negative demographic cycle. Fewer people meant greater resources for plague survivors: food prices tended to be lower and workers received better compensation for their labor (LiviBacci, 1991, p. 14).