Camus does an excellent job of contrasting individual insanity and collective insanity in his play Caligula. Basically, Caligula is insane. He is a despot who holds the lives of his subjects in his hands. At times, for very arbitrary reasons, he kills or executes someone from his court. This seems arbitrary and frightenging. Yet, Caligula is contrasted against sane military officers who engage in terrible acts of war where thousands upon thousands of civilians and soldiers are killed. So who is insane? Is it the dictator who might execute someone in his court for very trivial reasons or is it the rational military general who kills thousands and thousands of persons in rational and supposedly justified warfare? Camus reveals to the careful reader that societal evil is far more dangerous than individual evil. This is a wonderful thoughtful classic play that demonstrates Camus' ability to bring complex concepts to dramatic life.
The Misunderstanding, another play in this volume, is another complex drama. An innkeeper and her old maid daughter kills guests of the inn when they are able to discern that the guest's death can not be tracked. They rob the guests which supplements their income. They long for the return of the beloved son of the innkeeper who has been gone for years and years without contact. As you might expect, the son returns to the inn and is murdered by his mother and sister. The deed is revealed when his wife arrives and finds him missing. Camus here deals with the concept of objectification of others so that violence may be done to them without remorse. When the innkeeper and her daughter find they have murdered the long lost son, they are beside themselves with grief. But yet they have murdered many innocent travelers without remorse because they have been able to divorce themselves from any thoughts that these travelers were fellow humans. A simple play with a simple point, yet it points to a terrible feature of human existence, that we can commit unspeakable horror on others once we have convinced ourselves that they are no longer human beings. Camus recognized that prejudice kills, it is not beneign.
I appreciate Camus' ability to make a point without preaching or overstating. I strongly suggest this book of 4 short plays.