The Black Death

Essay by giantmtCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 2014

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The Black Death

Imagine watching your family die. Now imagine watching your whole town die, followed by your city, and then your country. The Black Death must have been such a horrific event to witness. Those living in that era must have felt so hopeless, so helpless, and so depressed. It must have been difficult to see even the smallest ray of sunshine in an entire world that seemed to be dying.

During the Black Death, while thirty to forty percent of the world's populations were busy dying, the ten young adults of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron were using the art of storytelling to help lighten their moods. In a time of such immense sorrow they were able to find that one thing that brought them a sense of normalcy and joy. It was a therapy of sorts; it was a way of healing emotionally. The distractions the stories brought from their emotional distress were seen as way to possibly patch their world back together again (Enotes Editors).

Sometimes I have a difficult time seeing stories as anything more than entertainment, but clearly for the survivors of the plague, storytelling was much more than that.

Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year set out to give the reader a sense of what life was like in London in 1665. The purpose of the journal that is partly fiction, and partly non-fiction, isn't so much to entertain as it is to inform. Defoe wanted the world to have a sense of the despair London felt during the plague, and to give an explanation of how it was dealt with (Spark Notes Editors).

Speculation was a way that both books dealt with the unknown that came along with the plague. Some believed it was the wrath of God; others thought...