Year of Wonders

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Essay topic #2:
Year of Wonders

The plague compels the people of Eyam to explain and combat the disease in whatever ways they can, Discuss.

Throughout the novel Year of Wonders, significant changes can be seen to occur in a variety of characters as they encounter this time of adversity. The town, now Anglican, is of a puritan background and holds religious beliefs in very high regard. These beliefs change context throughout the novel as we see characters such as Aphra resort to charms and witchery. Whilst they still do not attempt to explain the phenomena, they find themselves turning away from Religion and to superstitions for answers. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those of who become devout religiously out of fear and believe that atoning for their sins is the sole answer. However, there are a select few, privileged with an education and far ahead of their time, that turn away from their metaphysical beliefs and focus their attentions on combatting the disease using rationality and, without acknowledging it, attempt to approach the subject as a scientific matter.

The plague divides the villagers as black magic and superstition begins to appear and plant its seeds in the cracks created by the fear brought about by the plague. Aphra Bont is a prime example of an average person pressured into wayward actions under the burden of such adversity as the plague. Aphra goes against the grain when dealing with the threat of plague seeds and implores the use of charms and talismans. Not only does Aphra resort to these measures herself, but “[tries] to frighten” the villagers into “parting with a shilling for a charm to fend the plague away.” This causes a controversial reaction amongst villagers. Some, out of sheer desperation contrived to use these “wicked follies” showing segregation amongst the village between those who believed God, and atonement through self-sacrifice as the answer to the plague, and those who began to steer away from the...
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