Year of Wonders: How Little We Know... of the People We Live Amongst.

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Year of Wonders reveals “how little we know…of the people we live amongst.” Discuss. Year of Wonders, a novel written by Geraldine Brooks provides the reader with a true insight into the fabric of human nature and demonstrates how crisis can expose many new characteristics about the people we think we have formed close bonds with. After discovering Elinor’s past sins in the ‘Poppies of Lethe’, Anna comments on how oblivious of people’s true attributes and past experiences we can be, which reveals ‘how little we know… of the people we live amongst’. This revelation suggests that throughout times of crisis the way people respond and react will differ between individuals and possibly reveal an incident from their past which has resulted in a person’s personality and characteristics. This is evident in the narrative as Elinor’s ‘gentlewomen’ façade is revealed to be exactly that. It is also illustrated by John Gordon who turned into a self-harming, flagellant in an attempt to cope with the catastrophic effects of the plague. In the case of the Bont clan, their already horrid nature is amplified even more so, to an extent that it is mentally trying to deal with. Throughout the novel, Brooks’ conveys Elinor as a kind and compassionate ‘gentlewomen’ however as the narrative progresses, Elinor constantly steps out of this stereotypical role of femininity and displays how little you know about a person despite the close bond you may have with them. Elinor is character that engages the audience because she challenges the accepted social role of females in the 17th century. In order to ensure Merry Wickford maintains ownership of her mine, Elinor accompanied by Anna must enter the mine and draw out a ‘dish of lead’. This job ‘falling outside… what is considered fit for a women’, Elinor displays a great physical and mental strength which may have remained dormant and unknown to those around her without the needs of Merry to act as a catalyst for this revelation. Elinor’s...
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