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Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

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“The plague will make heroes of us all… and these times, they do make monsters of us all. The plague brings out the very best and very worst in people” is this how you see Year of Wonders? ‘Year of Wonders written by Geraldine Brooks creates an extraordinary sense of perception between the ordinary situations in the daily life of Eyam and the extremities that the village must face in order to survive. Both the antagonist and protagonist carry out actions that define the very worst and very best in human nature, respectively.

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These certain actions can be identified by the observation of the central character Anna. Through her experience and ordeals, the readers are able to grasp a clear understanding of Anna and her setbacks in which she is able to overcome by her strong willed nature and her desensitization of her past and present. On the other hand, the intentions of Aphra and Josiah Bont is not only portrayed as neglectful parents during the novel, but also takes the attributes of a selfish, greedy, and maledict character.

After the tragic deaths of George Viccars and Sam Frith in a mining incident, as well as the grim passing of her children, Anna suffers a period of pain and sorrow in which she must define resilience. From the help of both Michael and Elinor Mompellion, she is able to find comfort and sanction in order to overcome these traumatic experiences under the life of peasantry and poor lifestyle conditions. These events provide a sufficient amount of evidence on Anna’s personality and her drive to overcome grim circumstances.

Anna also befriends the local herb specialists, Mem and Anys Gowdie to study the secrets of handling herbs as well as understanding the depth of feminism as she is often visits to deliberate the topic of a women’s freedom and how little woman during the 18th century can claim it. Anna utilises these information to create an even stronger being as she progresses to even further devastations. Acquiring knowledge from the herbalists, Anna works closely with Elinor in attempting to combat the plague and a solid emotional bond is formed between the two in which Elinor reveals the secret of her seduction as a young girl.

In addition, the two accomplish a great deal, including salvaging the fortunes of an orphaned child, Merry Wickford and allows the readers to acknowledge the true potential of feminism in a Patriarchal society. In contrast, the plague also erupts the malevolence in the human character as the circumstance of extreme pressure and fearfulness bully those who are weaker in the village. Aphra and Josiah Bont, the parents of Anna are prime examples of spite and as a result, heavily exploit the decent people of Eyam as well as the death of Elinor.

Having neglected Anna, her own child, mentions to Anna that ‘[she] is a fool’, for loving her child so dearly that Anna retaliates by scolding that “God made [her] heart hard” as “she loved Tom from the moment [she] first reached down and touched the crown of his head” that emphasises Aphra’s selfishness and detached relationship with Anna. Aphra, having descended into a realm of madness and hysterical behaviour, leads to her punishment after taking the advantage of local villagers, and the killing of Elinor Mompellion in an act of deranged revenge and herself.

This unravels the sense of cowardice and feeble, in which had not been any better for Josiah Bont, Anna’s father. With no steady source of income and no attempt to gain any, Josiah is depicted in Anna’s eyes as a shameful and greedy person as in a time of need and desperation, Josiah cunningly exploits the villagers and their remaining possessions for his own benefits. Furthermore, the plague act as a vicious catalyst that is solidified in the minds of the villagers as their hatred for Mem and Anys Gowdie inclines.

The villagers uses the herbalist as scapegoats as a sign of relief and reasoning, with the growing tension increasing until it reaches a climax, they accuse Mem and Anys of creating such an event through the use of witchcraft. Without the sense of logical reasoning, it is evident that even the worst plague can deteriorate the relationship and bond between Anna and her best friend since childhood, Lib. Thus it can be seen that the plague is able to manipulate relationships during under the pressure of extreme circumstances.

As for Mempellion, the fluctuation in behaviour progresses equally throughout the novel, from the religious sermon as he convinces the village to quarantine themselves, showing initiative and leadership as well as the care for the civilians, to the lusting temptations of being with Anna, and the epiphany of his actions, breaking his religious morals. Setting aside the first chapter, Mompellion is depicted as an appropriate religious figure that attends to his duties as well as the care and wellbeing of others.

It can be acknowledged that in chapter 4, Rat-fall, Mempellion silences Tom’s outcries through “caring for [his] little sisters” making him a even more admirable person, not to mention the inspiring sermon in which he delivered, showing remarkable confidence in restoring the distraught and devastated emotions of faces that he observed. But as the novel comes drawing to a close, the loss of Elinor engulfs him in a world of hurt as Mempellion has finally lost his wits and given himself up to the darkness as “His hands is on the Bible, but he never opens it. Not anymore. Anna later discovers and is appalled by Mempellion’s confession, more so when he says he followed the Papists dogma to view women as dregs of the Devil’s dunghill. He states that he would not allow himself to look at Elinor as anything but a lowly creature and the monstrosity of her body. Michael laughs mirthlessly as he proclaims god doesn’t exist and everything he did toward Elinor and the village was shockingly wrong. He says his whole life has been based on a lie so now he shall do as he pleases indicating the lost of complete sense and releases the last shred of goodness within him.

All in all, the human mind can be affected to the point that even the strongest of people can be stripped of their positive attributes and characteristics. It can also make monsters of us all by bringing out the very worst in people evidently. Thus Year of Wonders carefully examines the nature of the human spirit to its full potential. Dear Ms Korakis, I’m not sure if I addressed the question properly, that is my only concern. Also I write this essay genuinely without any copy and paste.

Cite this Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. (2016, Oct 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/year-of-wonders/

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