Cruelty and Suffering in Year of Wonders

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YoW – Prac Essay #2
Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders is a bleak exploration of human suffering and cruelty. Discuss. Geraldine Brooks’ compelling novel, “Year of Wonders”, explores the various facets of human behaviour invoked when experiencing a traumatic and deathly event; the bubonic plague. The negative side of human nature is revealed when the villagers collapse under the pressure of the plague and begin to lose themselves within their scapegoating, greed and witchcraft. Untimely deaths rack the village with suffering and fear, with people not knowing which moment is their last and having no hope for the future. However, through this plague, there are events of great significance and joy, such as births and solid friendships that strongly carry through, despite the painful and traumatic events. Led by Michael Mompellion, the village followed through with a self quarantine to save the neighbouring villages from the horrors of the Plague. Through Anna’s detailed recounting, she paints a picture of a village and its people who are ruined by the Plague, suffering from death and fear. Her story is filled with immense grief and pain, and the drastic consequences that result from the insanity of loving loved ones. The Plague is unforgiving and unbiased, as “wealth and connection are no shield” against it. Anna, a young mother of two, loses both children to the epidemic. She loved them ‘from the moment [she] reached down and touched the crown of [their] heads” and yet the place was ‘cruel’ and threw blows upon blows “so that before you have mourned one person that you love, another is ill in your arms”. The death of two young, innocent children is not only horrifying and heart-wrenching, but reduces Anna to “not really seeing anything. It is only the tragedy of losing her ‘babes’, husband, potential lover in Mr Viccar, that she turns to Elinor and begins to learn the arts of physick. An aspect of the time era this story was set in, was the people’s avid belief...
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