The Plague

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Dr. Bernard Rieux

The narrator and main character of the novel, a doctor who is the first to notify the authorities of the plague and urge them to take action. Dr. Rieux is an atheist and a humanist… (read full character analysis)

Jean Tarrou

A man visiting Oran when the plague strikes, who takes detailed notes about the city and therefore has a very good record of the early days of the plague. Eventually Rieux and Tarrou become close… (read full character analysis)

Joseph Grand

An elderly municipal clerk of Oran who has never been promoted from his low-ranking job. His marriage to Jeanne also fell into loveless routine, and Jeanne left him. Grand struggles constantly with trying to express… (read full character analysis)

Raymond Rambert

A journalist from Paris who is trapped in Oran by the quarantine. Rambert desperately tries to escape the city and rejoin his wife in Paris, using both official and illegal means. He suffers many delays… (read full character analysis)


A man who committed an unknown crime in the past and so lives in a constant state of paranoia and fear of arrest, though he also craves human contact. Dr. Rieux meets him when Cottard… (read full character analysis)
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Father Paneloux

A Jesuit priest and scholar of St. Augustine. When the plague arrives Paneloux preaches a sermon about how it is a punishment sent by God. After watching the death of an innocent child, Paneloux’s faith… (read full character analysis)

Dr. Richard

Another colleague of Dr. Rieux’s, the head of the medical association in Oran. When confronted with the potential outbreak of plague, Richard prefers to take a “wait and see” approach rather than alarm the… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
M. Othon
A police magistrate of Oran who is strict and severe with everyone, including his children. After the death of his son, some gentleness appears in Othon’s character, but he dies of plague soon afterward.
Mme. Rieux
Dr. Rieux’s mother who comes to stay with him while his wife is away. A figure of quiet stability, peace, and kindness.
Jacques Othon
M. Othon’s young son, who gets the plague and suffers horribly before dying.
Dr. Castel
An elderly colleague of Dr. Rieux’s, the first person to say the word “plague” in describing the strange illness that appears in Oran. Castel battles the plague alongside Rieux, though he mostly focuses on developing an anti-plague serum.
The asthma patient
An old Spanish man whom Dr. Rieux treats for asthma. He stays in bed all day transferring dried peas from one bucket to another, and gleefully expounds theories about the plague and the townspeople of Oran.
The man who spits on cats
An old man Tarrou observes in the building across from his hotel. The man comes out onto his balcony every afternoon, lures stray cats to approach, and spits on them. He serves as a symbol of the absurdity of life.
M. Michel
The concierge for the building where Dr. Rieux works. M. Michel is greatly distressed by the appearance of the dead rats, and is the first victim of the plague.
The Prefect
The Prefect of Oran, who generally drags his feet instead of taking action, preferring not to alarm the townspeople.
The man in charge of pest control for the city, whom Rieux calls about the rat situation.
Grand’s ex-wife who left him because of the wearying monotony of their lives.
Dr. Rieux’s wife
She is ill and leaves for a sanatorium just before the plague strikes.
One of Cottard’s friends in the criminal underground, who befriends Rambert over their mutual love of football.
Marcel and Louis
Two young sentries at the gates of Oran who offer to smuggle Rambert out for a fee.
A man whom Cottard knows in the criminal underground. He connects Rieux with others who might be able to help him escape from the town.
Another person in the criminal underground who helps to arrange the possibility of Rieux's escape from the town.