Masters Thesis

Breathing life into myth: elements of tragedy in Albert Camus' The Stranger and The Plague

Albert Camus re-constructs the Greek myths of Sisyphus and Prometheus to symbolize man’s essential condition and the rebellion against that condition. Through the use of symbol and allusion Camus connects The Stranger and The Plague to Greek myth and tragedy. Camus’ tragic heroes are descendants of the tragic heroes of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Meursault, the tragic hero in The Stranger is the absurd man and this connects him to Sisyphus. But his tragic lineage is more comparable to that of Oedipus. They both cross a limit and are fated to a paradoxical existence that is both of their own making and unavoidable. In The Plague the tragic condition of the inhabitants of Oran and their evolution to solidarity mirrors the spirit of Prometheus. In both novels Camus anthropomorphizes the sun and the sea in ways that connect to Greek myth.