Analysis of Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year”

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    Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is interesting to me because of its religious and introspective themes. In this current pandemic, it was hard for me to not compare the situation in the piece with our current situation. It is clear that there was more thought given to the religious implications of the plague during that time than is given now. The narrator’s stanza at the end of the piece seems to ask why, when so many other people did not survive, did the narrator himself survive? This introspective theme and question does not seem to be burdening many people during these times, suggesting distinct differences between the beliefs of our culture and the one referred to in the narrative. While the people suffering from the plague in the narrative were confessing sins and feeling that they were getting their punishment for past grievances, people’s focus during this present pandemic is more on scientific theories than moral questions. Regarding people’s response to the plague by confession of sins, Defoe seems to take a judgemental stance on their repentance, saying that the people’s wickedness will return and that they are not being thankful to God enough for taking the plague away. Overall, I think the reading was interesting to compare to our current times.

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