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Author Topic: English Text Reponse Year of Wonders  (Read 3637 times)  Share 

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TheRajinator

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English Text Reponse Year of Wonders
« on: September 24, 2012, 04:12:02 pm »
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Any feedback or criticism is appreciated  :D

“Year of Wonders” demonstrates that times of crisis bring out the darker side of human nature. Discuss

Geraldine Brooks “Year of Wonders” explores the nature of human response to severe adversity. While the darker side of the villagers is frequently displayed during the plague, Brooks also intends to highlight the capacity in humans for great altruism and courage in times of hardship. The scourge ultimately brings out the best and worst of human nature. Anna Frith the central protagonist and narrator demonstrate genuine humanity and courage in the face of the epidemic. She is not only able to overcome her grief, but is also able to alleviate herself in society ultimately becoming an indispensable asset to the community. In contrast many in the village demonstrate the extent of human fragility and loss of rationale during times of crisis. This is blatantly confirmed through events such as the gruesome lynching of the Gowdies and through characters such as John Gordon. On the other hand for the Bonts’ the plague magnifies their already established wickedness which results in brutal consequences for themselves and the community. Brooks illustrates that the plague is not responsible for producing the sinister side of human character, but rather brings out the turmoil already present deep within the villagers much like how the plague brings out “rings of rose petals” in its victims. 

Brooks uses the plague as a plot device and a catalyst for Anna’s transformation from a “timid girl” to a “woman who had faced greater terrors than many warriors.” Anna is able to endure the worst a mother can – losing both her sons to the plague. Despite this Anna is able to swiftly recover from her sorrow and establish herself as a skilled healer and midwife. It is her ability to reason, her hunger to learn and belief in the cycle of nature that allows her to move on. Not only is she able to endure great suffering, but is able to take moments of respite during the onset of new life. Her compassionate nature is exemplified through a multitude of events. For instance she remains completely oblivious to her own safety as she works tirelessly assuaging victims of the gruesome and possibly contagious disease. Anna is able to sympathise with the orphan Merry Wickford and challenge patriarchy, risking her life to retrieve a “plate” of lead from a mine. In another occasion Anna exhibits her outrage when Elizabeth Bradford attempts murdering the illegitimate new born of Mrs Bradford. Her attack on Elizabeth demonstrates not only her new subversive attitudes but her passionate commitment to life.  She also flees England revealing her enormous capacity to sacrifice. Such actions against the Bradfords would have been considered blasphemous during that time however Anna risks everything anywhere. However even Anna is not flawless and the darker side of her is illustrated when she breaks Mompellion’s dishes due to her envy of their apparently intimate relationship. Nevertheless Anna is able to overcome this jealousy once she realise the shocking nature of their chaste marriage.  Elinor considers Anna’s transformation as “the one good, perhaps, to come out of this terrible year.”

In contrast the trials and tribulations of the plague stimulate alarming and grisly responses from many of the community members. Millstone apology for his impatience - “these times, they do make monsters of us all,” correctly reflects the monstrous reactions of the community when they wrongly persecute the Gowdies for witches. The plague divides the community in fear and despair and as a result they scapegoat Mem and later Anys presuming that it was them that brought the plague. It is their lack of capacity to think and their rage that ultimately leads to the demise of Mem and Anys. From then on the community not only suffers from their guilt, but also from the lack of physic expertise that once the Gowdies provided. Another extreme response to the plague is seen in John Gordon who becomes a flagellant subjecting his body to horrible torment by not eating, drinking and continuously whipping himself with leather plaited with nails. He sees this as a way to “allay God’s wrath” hence to avoid the plague. The villages anger is once more aroused when they discover Aphra’s scams and punish her harshly by throwing her in a pit of manure. Anna notes – “our hurts so raw and our fear so great that we would lash out at anyone.” The inhabitants had endured so much suffering that they had yielded to almost animal instinct showing little sympathy for anyone.

The Bonts’ perhaps exemplify the greatest malice and capability for evil. Aphra and Joss are introduced in the novel as already selfish and greedy. The plague is able to amplify both their hunger for money which eventually leads to their heinous crimes and ultimate demise. Aphra a “shrewd” yet superstitious woman exploits the tragedy of Eyam through scamming desperate people masquerading as the ghost of Anys to sell enchantments and charms. When her swindling is discovered by the villagers she is met with cruel retribution. The loss of her children further catalyses her descent into madness. As a consequence she not only commits suicide but murders Elinor bringing further devastation to Eyam. Joss, Anna’s extremely abusive and alcoholic father also brings further misery. It is his brutal past at sea that manifests through his actions when as a gravedigger he robs the dying and unthinkably buries a man alive to earn money faster. His violent attitude and depravity leads to his death sentence and the villagers once again have to come to terms with the evil within a man rather than the devastation of the plague.

Geraldine Brooks is able to highlight the duality, the “dark” and “light” that the pestilence brings out from the community. The inner commotion of the villagers is unleashed in a fury of emotions to a variety of events. Panic and irrationality lead to cruel incidents such as the persecution of the Gowdies and a dangerous belief in superstition is exemplified by John Gordon’s self-flagellation. Evil manifests in the village in the forms of Aphra and Joss who both exploit the desperation of people for their own selfish motives leading to further death and misery.  While death, destruction and misfortune become inevitable after the plague strikes, it also facilitates positive changes in characters such as Anna who is able to not only alleviate her position in society but demonstrate great courage and compassion. It is ultimately her heroic deeds and sacrifices that make the year of the plague a “Year of Wonders.”
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 10:07:41 pm by TheRajinator »
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TheRajinator

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Re: English Text Reponse Year of Wonders
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 10:10:30 pm »
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Pleeeeeeeaseee someone with exceptional English Godliness just skim over this and tell me if this is a high scoring piece in the exam or I need to lift my game!!
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nisha

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Re: English Text Reponse Year of Wonders
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 10:44:05 pm »
+1
Haven't read the book, but I can give some  general guidance.

Intro: I liked it. But too many short sentences. Work on your flow, and making your ideas succinctly clear. Too much analysis, save this for bp's! Had to read it three times to actually understand what you were saying, and the examiner would't do that.

BP1: plot summary. A lot of examples of how the text demonstrates this, but on why the author do this. Focus, in text response on the HOW AND WHY, rather than what. Yes, examples are necessary to validate your point, but not to the extent where you are giving tons of examples where this happens, and then this happens and no actual meaty analysis. The examiner knows this already! Show author intent. Why does the author show through the characters that times of crisis brings out the dark side in human nature? How is this explored through themes/imagery/context/minor characters? Also look at the flip side (which I think you have done as your paragraphs become shorter as I read on).

I stopped reading there, as I would have to repeat myself. Don't summarise the book.
I really liked the conclusion though, very clear, and I understood the points you brought up. This is turning out to be an excellent piece, you just need to tweak some areas.:)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 10:52:48 pm by nisha »
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TheRajinator

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Re: English Text Reponse Year of Wonders
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 11:03:40 pm »
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Thank you very much, I will take your points into consideration.  ;D
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