Year of Wonders

Topics: Black Death, Sociology, Bubonic plague Pages: 4 (1292 words) Published: September 5, 2013
‘And so the rest of us set about learning to live in the wide green prison of our own election.’ What do the characters learn about themselves and their relationships with others? Geraldine Brooks’ novel ‘Year of Wonders’ is a factual retelling of an infamous historical event, interwoven with an insightful exploration of diverse facets of human nature evoked when faced with adverse circumstances. With the arrival of the bubonic plague in the village of Eyam, its inhabitants are subsequently imprisoned within a self-imposed quarantine to prevent the contagion spreading further, “...here we are, and here we must stay. Let the boundaries of this village become our whole world…” Amidst the death and devastation, characters learned of their innate capacity for goodness and altruism, or in contrast, barbarity and selfishness. Furthermore, as conformities of society were abandoned and social hierarchies crumbled, new relationships were created and old relationships tested. Anna Frith is the protagonist and heroine of ‘Year of Wonders’, and it is through her character’s development and liberation that Anna realises the human capacity for goodness and finds it deep within herself. Before the arrival of the plague, Anna had already been victim of immense hardships, including her upbringing by her loveless and abusive father and stepmother, and the death of her husband in a mining accident. The plague takes the lives of her two sons, and despite sometimes losing herself in an abyss of tragedy and loss, Anna’s humanity survives even when faced with the extremities of the plague. Anna continually puts herself in danger for the betterment of others, by caring for the diseased, defending the unjustly persecuted and shouldering responsibilities as others being to ignore theirs. The plague acted as a catalyst for Anna to challenge social conformities and conventions for women, and those of lower class standing, in that era. Through her inner determination and strength, Anna...
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