The plague captures the Spanish city of Cadiz and establishes its own order in it. Only those who overcome fear of the Plague will free people.
“Siege position” is a representation in three parts. In the foreword the author points to his alleged co-author Jean-Louis Barro, to whom the idea of the play-myth of the plague belongs. Camus also argues that “this is not a play with a traditional structure, but a representation where it is intentionally taken as the principle of mixing all dramatic forms of expression – from lyrical monologue to mass scenes, including pantomime, ordinary dialogue, farce and chorus.”
The first part begins with an alarming sign: a comet flew over the Spanish city of Cadiz. What does this sign mean? Someone is sure
Diego, a young doctor, it does not matter what the comet warns about, the main thing is not to be afraid. He loves the daughter of Judge Victoria, is going to marry her. Meanwhile, the governor decides to pretend that nothing has happened, because “a good governor is a governor whose government does not happen,” and even the slightest mention of the cosmic sign is forbidden to the townspeople. Nada cautioned that the lie – “this is not stupidity, it’s politics.” And here in the market square life boils, someone praises their goods, remembering at the same time about the morning comet, someone inadvertently remembers a sign in conversation, and lovers Diego and Victoria coo. But suddenly someone in the crowd suddenly falls to the ground. After examining the patient, Diego with a considerable effort utters a disappointing for the whole city
In the palace of the judge, the governor is informed about the growth of the epidemic, he is disappointed that this happened just when he was going on a hunt. At the same time, people confess in the church, pray for sins. Diego, not sparing himself, helps the sick. Victoria wants to see him, but he is full of fear of illness, before he dies.
A man and a woman in uniform appear on the stage. This is the plague that drives the government and seizes power over Cadiz, and his secretary, who erases people’s names from his notebook, thereby killing them. New rules are being set in the city: to mark houses and people with black plague stars, products are supplied only to “useful” people for the city, denunciations for sick and infected people are encouraged, men and women should live separately, and finally, everyone should keep a gag in their mouths. “What does it matter to you, the plague or the governor? The state is the state,” Nada says.
So, the city is closed, there is no escape. The first part of the play ends with the monologue of Plague, where he states that, reigning, he will bring order and teach the city dwellers “to die in an organized way,” “administratively.”
The plague gives orders, people continue to die, the Registrar keeps records. A typical fisherman now needs a certificate of existence that can not be obtained without a health certificate, which can not be obtained without first reference. People get stuck in the bureaucracy, in meaningless papers, where everything becomes official right up to the motives of marriage and the reasons for existence.
The people of Cadiz do not understand anything. “The less they understand, the better they will obey” – the credo of the new government. The men are sent to the devil knows where, the salaries are low, the houses requisition – in the city a complete mess, called a system organization. Drunk Nada, whose name means Nothing, joins the administration of the Plague and the Secretary. “One good plague is better than two democracies.” But Diego – a supporter of prudence, for which the plague rewards him with symptoms of plague. Being driven by fear and despair, he bursts into the Judge’s house. He immediately wants to surrender it, because he serves the law. “And if the law is criminal?” “If a crime becomes a law, it ceases to be a crime.” To stop the Judge, Diego threatened to infect his youngest son, who, like the Judge, hated his sister as well. Diego is ashamed of the fact that all of them,
Meanwhile, Nada and the Judge are discussing the election of a new government, that is, Plague, which will unconditionally win, since all ballots with votes against are canceled. “But you said that the elections are free?” “They are free… You still had a misconception about freedom.” And Diego and Victoria are confused: he is confused, does not understand anything, she loves him madly, even ready to die in his arms. He embraces her, wanting to infect, he does not want the beauty of his lover enjoyed by others after his death, but the symptoms of plague do not appear. She embraces him boldly. He becomes frightened and runs away.
On the beach, Diego meets a boatman who drives food to people fleeing the epidemic on the island. Diego wants to escape, but from nowhere there is a secretary. His fear prevents him from doing what he has planned. The secretary “crosses out” the boatman, a dying cry is heard from the boat. Diego openly despises the Secretary, he is sweet to her, but for a young man her hatred is better than her smiles. She talks about her craft, rather tiresome. Diego boils, he promises a swift end to the new power. This power only wants to “kill to end murder, resort to violence to establish justice.” Enraged, he slaps the Secretary. The signs of plague on Diego’s body disappear. There is one flaw in the mechanism of this power – it is enough for a person to overcome fear, rebel, and then “the machine will squeak.” Diego forgets about fear. The sky is cleared.
Part three describes the revolt of Diego and the townspeople of Cadiz. Now Diego directs buildings, sets people up for rebellion, relieving them of fear. But people hesitate. When Plague orders to strike out Diego, the Secretary answers that she is powerless, because he stopped being afraid. People take out gags. They wrest the notebook from the Secretary. The Judge’s daughter crosses out someone’s name, and the sound of a man falling to the floor is heard in the Judge’s house. The crowd takes a notebook from the scab and crosses it. Then they want to clean and pinch down a few unworthy people. Plague: “Well, they themselves do our work!”. Diego tears the notebook to shreds.
But the Plague has another way to influence Diego. On a stretcher, they writh Victoria, writhing in agony. The plague offers the guy a bargain: if Diego agrees to retreat and give the city, then the disease will not touch either him or his beloved. But Diego stands firm on his. He agrees to give his life for the lives of all residents of the city and his beloved. And then the Plague says that the guy passed the final test. “The only thing worth staying true to is its contempt.” If the young man agreed to give the town to the Plague, he would have died with his beloved. And now the city has all chances to find freedom. “One crazy man like you is enough…”. But the madman perishes. On a body at Diego there are awful signs of a plague. The secretary is transformed into an old woman-death. She can not take Diego right away, she’s not herself. Before the plague, it was free and random, nobody despised it, but now it is obliged to serve the logic and the charter. She fell in love with Diego because he, in his own way, had pity on her.
The plague goes away. In his farewell monologue, he claims that God is an anarchist, that he himself chose a method of repression, which is more serious than in hell. “The ideal is to get as many slaves as possible with the help of a minimum of correctly selected dead people.” “By destroying or breaking down the right number of people, we will bring entire nations to our knees.” But Death is sure that you can triumph over everything except pride. No matter how stubborn the plague, human love is still stubborn. Victoria immediately recovers, but Diego falls prostrate. Victoria wants to die with him, but she needs this world. She is sure – better he would continue to be afraid. Diego is dying.
The former government is returning. But instead of mourning the dead, they reward each other with orders, arrange ceremonies. The city’s gates swing open. Strong wind blows. Nada, addressing people, says that “one can not live well, feeling that man is nothing, and God’s face is terrible.” Nada rushes into the sea. The play ends with Rybak’s words: “O water, the sea, the fatherland of the rebels, this is your people, and he will never back down.” The high rampart, born of the bitterness of the waters, will take your cities forever. “