The Plague: A Great Mortality Essay

944 words - 4 pages

When the black death mysteriously and suddenly hit Europe, it spread at an unbelievable speed leaving almost no city untouched. The citizens of fourteenth century Europe were unsure of how to cope with half the population being wiped out in such a short time span. What had caused this “great mortality”? Who was really to blame for their suffering? How were they to overcome it? While being overwhelmed with sickness and a number of dilemmas stemming from it, many societies became weak and eventually fell apart.
The black death is suspected to have begun around the year of 1331 (Reedy, “The Bubonic Plague” 1). The disease started in inner Asia where it was picked up and spread by rats (Reedy, “The Bubonic Plague” 1). The rats and other various species of the rodent family would have caught the infection from fleas that carried the Y. pestis virus (Reedy, “The Bubonic Plague” 1). The rodents then carried these fleas and their virus across Europe where the fleas spread to human hosts.
As the bacteria spread through the body, the recipient temperature would rise accompanied by a flood of other uncomfortable symptoms. In the most common form called Bubonic plague, the victim had “bubos or pus filled hard swellings” in the groin, neck, armpit, three of the places a persons lymph nodes are found. (Reedy, The Bubonic Plague” 1). These bubos contained the bacilli or bacteria that was the plague. A bubo could sometimes become as large as an orange, making it possible to see the bacilli moving through the victims skin (Reedy, “The Bubonic Plague” 1).
In Camus' novel, “The Plague”, he tells a fictional story about a port town in France that has been infected by the Plague. Camus' detail in recounting the symptoms the people face as a plague victim follow alongside reality. In the novel, the first victim of the illness, M. Michel, notices a pain and swelling in his neck and abdominal regions, which develops into hard ganglia and black patches on his skin. He then has a high fever and soon enough dies (Reedy, Study guide 1). As the novel progresses, the majority of the town is struck by the plague (Reedy, Study guide 1). Some citizens wonder if this is God's wrath coming down on them and attempt amends while others flee the city diminishing all contact with those infected (Reedy, Study guide 2).
One of the major conflicts this novel discusses is that of the “fight or flight” choice. While many in the community decided to leave and try to distance themselves from the virus, there were a considerable amount of people who stayed to tend to their family members ridden by the plague or even strangers. As the mortality rate increases, characters questioned how much worth there was to helping people when nothing...

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