Year of Wonders is an historical novel based around the village of Eyam, which quarantined itself between 1665 and 1666 when the plague arrives from a traveller from London. As the plague sweeps through the town of Eyam the population is slowly getting smaller and more fearful, the writer explores the variety of reactions that are possible when small communities are ravaged by tragedy. Many of the characters kept their values but lose faith in God, only some people’s values are tainted when they display acts of selfishness and greed brought on by the need to preserve their own lives and comfort.
Anna, who was formally a maid who served for the Mompellions, overcomes her fears and steps up to help out the town of Eyam. She tries to stop the hysteria around Mem and Anys Gowdie, and was the only one who stood up and tried to stop the frightened towns people from drowning Mem Gowdie “I had the satisfaction of having done a thing that had come out right”, her values were fixed in helping others in need. Anna showed devotion in her ability to ‘tend to so many [other] people’. Though Anna doesn’t loose her values she loses her faith “perhaps the plague was neither of God nor Devil, but simply a thing of nature”. Anna attempts to keep hope alive in the town and ease the suffering of the afflicted, as does the rector Michael Mompellion whilst other characters such as Aphra and Josiah whose values change as they take advantage of the plague by misleading others.
Though some would disagree, Michael Mompellion did step up when his leadership was being tested. He worked determinedly to save the town, having made the difficult decision to advise everyone to stay in the town. Mompellion promises the towns people that “no one will die alone”, he was determined to help those who needed it. He stood up and gave Eyam a sense of direction and hope “the Plague will make heroes of us all, whether we will or no”. Without the law, he seems to be the final word in what represents...
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