Journal of a Plague Year

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    The piece “A Journal of the Plague Year” is quite interesting as it is somewhat colloquial with current world crises. We are introduced to what is essentially a blame game whether “it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant, among some goods which were brought home by their Turkey fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus” (Defoe, 1). Despite information on the billing for the death toll which is given for multiple provinces, the plague is prominent and at that point in time death was inevitable. However, further rapport was made hyperbolic through lack of knowledge and resources. Vignettes used such as the unpalatable living conditions of a man that was alive one day and gone the next as well as people seeking talismans show how public hysteria expanded. However, what is most interesting to me about this passage are the religious overtones used in Defoe’s passage. The plague is posited as a moral conflict. It is quite damning to insist that spreading of the plague was a warning from God. To say that would be to imply that God targeted the impoverished as a means of showing the well off members of society to change how they view and handle the plague. In the end, most people return to day to day life as if the plague did not change the speed of things.

    The story is also interesting for the fact that Daniel Defoe was merely 4-5 years old at the height of the plague. The point-of-view of the story seems to be a first-person account of the plague and thus somewhat biographical, but this work would probably best fit under the category of historical fiction. In relation to current world crises as previously mentioned, it seems as if blame is being assigned to one group. Stratification among people makes times like these unbearable and much similar to the case of Defoe poignant. It seems as if the plague would have been contained through better resources, aid in susceptible communities, and social distancing as it is currently being observed. In closing, “A Journal of the Plague Year” places disease into a historical context and while the passage is not medical, it digs through social receptivity.

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