Observation of the ‘Journal of the plague year’ -from today’s pandemic perspective

prelude into the philosophical observation of Daniel Defoe’s ‘journal of the plague year’

The pandemic we’re experiencing in 2020 isn’t unprecedented at all, and neither are the approaches to contain the human misery, suffering and redemption…Defoe describes it all too magnificently, through the journal of stats, comments, and graphics, as for all of our scientific, artificial intelligence, technological prowess and many experts around the world….one cannot escape the fate of cyclical events, irony smiles back at us, and we find ourselves on time-traveling course….experiencing an extended version of the Defoe’s ‘year of the plague journal’….

Author during the Covid-19 Pandemics -all rights reserved
Author; during early days of C-19 Pandemic @all rights reserved

If we quietly observe the current situation around us, one can identify odd similiraties with ‘ Journal of the plague year’…maybe the world and reality in which we all live in, is just a mirage, a mere optical illusion!?…we exist inside the ‘Matrix’ and we still haven't been introduced with choices of the red or blue pill, consequently, we are just passive travelers into the past, current and future disasters….transceding wars, plagues & existential crisis….ambiguity of cyclical events…shuffled into time as constant repetition of selected disposition.

Centuries apart, what makes us unique from past civilizations, is in fact, the immeasurable….consistent…TIME!

Defoe’s masterpiece, based on the author’s personal perspective of the plague that struck London in 1665…the story is a mixture of official and imaginary narrative notes, as the author was a 6 year’ old boy while going through the horrors of the plague!….depicting anonymous narrator signed only as ‘H.F.‘ the main character and ever-present observer, is right in the middle of all things, gathering stories in the pubs and streets, the reader experience the story from narrator’s perspective, occasionally, somewhat a bit voyeuristically to micro-details, while all starts with an unwritten rule…

Bad news travels fast indeed!….fully aware that the plague has already reached London shores, H.F decides to observe the consequences of the disease that was spreading like a wildfire…with his notes focused on statistics, symptoms, infection, and mortality.

illustration from the plague year 1665 credit; the gallery of art/London

Faced with a new reality, H.F ponders whether he should stay or leave the city!? as he begins to believe that, God almighty has entrusted him with divine mission to stay and serve humanity as a note-taker of this plague…

H.F finds that the plague has massive effects on human behavior, as a result, citizens have turned aggressive, reluctant, and lost their hopes…moreover, the differences in the social structure had arisen to disturbing levels, as the rich were leaving the city….meanwhile, the lesser class were left to face despair and agony, as the saga continues to intensify further, when H.F reveals how people are influenced by fortunetellers, (or as he considers them ordinary fraudsters and witchers)….that were claiming to possess the cure from the plague, as such has not existed to H.F knowledge, and all there was to it, was indeed a mixture of hazardous potions, deteriorating the wellbeing of the citizens that were desperately seeking salvation from the plague!

Searching the promised cure, people wanted to believe in anything they could grasp at, as finding cure in midst of despair, was as complex as finding the neddle in the haystack!

Furthermore, H.F is appalled with the news of quarantine, that the Lord Mayor ordered himself for the infected to be locked in their homes until the plague is gone!…watchmen were posted outside front doors. They could eventually be sent only for errands to fetch food or medicine, so people confronted the new rules and some watchmen were bribed, while other were assaulted or even murdered in the midst of the madness of confinement, as the plague was spreading fast with no proper measure to contain it!

exert; observation of the plague year

Salvation from infection had taken biblical proportions and H.F considers it as an escape from the evil conquest!

Just as biblical exodus on ten plagues( recorded in the book of the exodus) occurrences from swarms of locusts, hordes of frogs, and a scourge of boils damaging the food supply, so has the City become isolated and deserted, as when trade and production halted, famine occurred!…people became disillusioned by hunger and desperation, that they thought it is the end of times!

The last chapter is confusing with contradictory narrative, after all the ordeal H.F went through, his beliefs and self-esteem changed…H.F no longer believes that he was sent by God to keep notes, but quite the opposite!? ..he believes that actually he was just stuck because of his own troubled past, Karma!? Thus he confesses his sins to the Lord and seeks mercy for the things he has done in the past!
The closure consists of H.F compiling the journal with final statistics on human casualities and trade fiasco.…while the plague itself slowly disappears, without a trace!

  • Official records of the Plague are stored in the National archive in London, England
  • Considered to be the worst outbreak of the plagues in England since the black death of 1348
  • London recorded 68,596 deaths in the city alone, the true number believed to be over 100,000.
  • All trade with London and other plague towns halted

source; nationalarchives.gov.uk





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