A Journal of the Plague Year

Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year: An Examination of the Effects of Apocalyptic Disease on Humanity

Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year gives the modern reader insight into the tense atmosphere of disease-infested urban London. However, the most important insights we gain from H.F.'s narrative are his observations on human behaviour, ones that can be applied universally to those who become part of the environment of epidemic. In H.F.'s journal, the issues regarding the wrath of God as the ultimate cause of plague, the discussions on plague's means of transmission and treatment, the human desire for an explicable theory to the cause of it, as well as the class consciousness that becomes especially blatant during the plague outbreak of 1665, help to convey Defoe's aim to present this particular visitation of plague in London as a multi-dimensional and complicated circumstance. Hence, the modern reader is less inclined to homogenize and simplify the experiences of plague victims, thereby leaving the narrative with a greater understanding of the tremendous effects of disease on humanity.

While examining A Journal of the Plague Year, it becomes important to determine how far plague is represented as a divine visitation, or conversely, how much as a natural calamity. At the time of the 1665 plague...

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