“The characters in ‘Year of Wonders’ lose faith in humanity rather than in God.” To what extent do you agree?
Geraldine Brooks’ novel “Year of Wonders” explores how grief and difficulty can cause peoples’ faith to undergo change. Brooks focuses on the various ways in which characters struggle to maintain faith in humanity and God and, often, turn to alternative sources of relief.
Many attempt to maintain their faith in humanity, as is exemplified by the Mompellions, who embody compassion and trust prior to Elinor’s death. However, Mr Mompellion, Anna, and several villagers find little relief from the plague through religious conviction, and thus they abandon their faith in God in an endeavour to find refuge and hope.
Throughout the course of the plague, the Mompellions uphold faith in humanity, as is shown through Mr Mompellion stating that “the Plague will make heroes of us all” and Elinor’s selfless acts, such as assisting Merry Wickford in keeping her mine. It is the incident in which
Aphra appears, “clutching the maggoty remnant of her daughter’s corpse” and a “large miner’s knife”, though, that ultimately highlights such faith. Although she is “thinned” “down to a wisp” by “the ravages of her madness”, Aphra is undeniably dangerous as she waves the knife “in wide, erratic curves”. However, the Rector and Elinor maintain the belief that
Aphra can be calmed, “soothing” and “stroking” her, successful to the extent that “it might have ended there” until a “new frenzy” and “an instant’s work” took “two lives” and left
“another ruined”. It is due to this event that Mr Mompellion casts aside his faith in humanity, as – ironically – the death of the child Faith spurred the loss of Elinor and, thus, the Rector’s loss of faith in others and his consequential mistrust and seclusion.
Mr Mompellion does not only lose his faith in humanity - prior to the commencement of the plague, and until faced with Elinor’s death, Michael