Defoe thinks that the lives of the people living in the town were full of sorrow, both religiously and social terms. This was made clear from the onset of the narration where the narrator stated that there were no cautions that gave people the chance to keep provisions or give judges an opportunity to organize for the poor. On the other hand, Defoe acknowledged that a number of the wealthy individuals who left the city gave out a lot of money to take care of the poor people. Money was also donated in other cities within England so that the poor people could be taken care of. A number of the poor individuals currently depend on donations since their businesses and labors were weakened or done away with. According to Defoe, there are five groups of people that were majorly affected by the epidemic (p.25). For instance, those people who were employed in the manufacturing industries were mostly affected since it was totally closed.
Those individuals, who worked at the construction sites either building or repairing houses, were affected considering that a number of the families had another look at their financial condition and their wants. Other people affected by this reassessment include; seamen and related workers, those people who used to work in the shops, and journeymen. The whimpers of the poor people were regrettable when listened to. Conversely, through the allocation of contributions they became happier than they were before hence forgetting about their sorrows. This is because hunger and suffering were considered to be among their daily realities. The supply of the contributions was believed to be more triumphant and essential since it vetoed the poor people from forcing their entry into the homes of the wealthy individuals. Additionally, it also prevented the poor from blowing up and forming a rebellious group. The city was not adequately prepared to prevent such a revolution.
The poor individuals were not informed as they tried to come out untouched from the distemper. There are many issues which made the poor not to carry out any misbehavior. For instance, the wealthy people did not possess a number provisions kept in their houses. Moreover, the watchfulness of the Lord Mayor and judges who worked hard, with the supreme and kindest ways, to assist those who were poor also made them not to misbehave (Defoe 29). Those people who happen to have lost their jobs were not left out as women were employed as nurses while men were made to be watchmen. The calamity which occurred between August and October took away a number of citizens. According to Defoe, this was not to be considered as regret since they could have been an insupportable burden to the city (p.32). This implies that the city could have not been capable of maintaining their financial aid or providing them with food.
The official number of dead people continued to increase. Most of those individuals who got employed at the township and those who laid the dead people to rest were not left out as they also died. According to Defoe, approximately 100,000 people were killed by the plague that year (p.23). He believed that the plague had not yet ended as many people continued to die in the bushes or in the woods. Other hopeless people lost their way into the country and died by the roadside. It is important to note that the deaths of all the above mentioned were not accounted for. By the time Defoe was walking along the streets of London, it was fully deserted as most of the people had died from the plague. In addition, those who survived the plague were still not able to walk along the streets. What he could see was a few carts transporting those individuals who had died.
Even though few medical practitioners could still be seen looking for the survivors in various houses, the plague had also killed a number of them. September was considered to be the most horrible month as this was the period when most people died. The handcart for the dead was not able to hold the number of people dying. At some point, it took a longer time before the dead people could be picked up. This could only happen with the protest of the neighbors. As the misery became more intense, those who were spared by the plague were seen screaming besides the roads and raising their hands with ravenousness. A clergyman could always be observed broadcasting the judgment of the town while moving around naked. However, a number of people did not lose focus in their worship. Most of the time they could be seen praying to God, pleading guilty to their sins, requesting for guidance and pleading with the clerics to console them (Defoe 38-9).
One day Defoe, who had stayed in the house for a number of days, decided to go to the post office to send his a brother a note. What he could see was silent and empty streets. Those individuals who were walking outside were very cautious with themselves. He kept on imagining the number of people who covered themselves in boats and other places to avoid being attacked by the plague. While walking along the bank, he met a man (Robert) who sorrowfully showed him some of the houses which were affected by the plague. Even though this man transported people who were escaping the plague, he did it carefully to ensure that he is not affected. Robert could risk his life ferrying people so that he could care for his family (Defoe 44).
Defoe accompanied Robert to his house and gave him some cash to support his family with. Even though Robert’s wife had a swelling he knew things would be better as time goes, but feared his son would pass away. Struck with the sorrow, Defoe decided to add Robert extra money hence they both became extremely happy and grateful. While they were still having some conversation, Defoe asked him whether those individuals who took refuge in the boats were given food or not. Even though a number of them were given provisions, some of them were not lucky.
Arguably, it is true that the people who lived in the country, especially within the city, were full of sorrow. For instance, Defoe was made to stay in his residence for a longer period of time to escape the plague (p.42). While moving along the streets, he also comes across a naked clergyman pleading with people to repent and turn to God. Poor people always suffer in a number of ways. For instance, they always lack enough money to meet their daily needs including hospital bills. Robert did not have enough money to take care of his family, and that is why he had to risk his life in the waters ferrying people at the time of the plague. Given his financial challenges, he was not in a position to take his sick wife and son to hospital since he was poor. Even though he expected his wife to get well, Robert knew that his son would die.
Consequently, a number of people also died from the plague since they did not have enough money to move out of the town or for treatment. This can be explained by the fact that all the rich people were able to move out of the town on time. The number of the wealthy people affected by the plague has not been mentioned by the narrator. This implies that only the poor people were left behind (Defoe 41). The money they were given was not even enough to take care of them hence they continued to suffer. Their continued unhappiness was not only caused by their poverty, but also the plague. According to Defoe, a number of people died from the plague.
He asserted that he was very remorseful for the low income members of the society, particularly domestic servants. The sorrows of the poor people are also manifested when the narrator stated that they were majorly depended on the city for their daily survival. A number of writings on the plague focused on how many poor people used to suffer. It also focused on how to avoid chaos and collapse of societal and political organizations. Notably, the narrator’s sympathies are with the poor people. This explains why he has put a lot of focus on their welfare and suffering.
Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. Bibliotech Press, 2014. Print.
MobileReference . A Journal of the Plague Year: By Daniel Defoe. Boston: MobileReference.com, 2008. Internet resource.
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