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Plague, Religion, and Society in Literature

In the context of modern society, the notion of plague stands for metaphoric labeling of an all-destructive force that cannot be either stopped or controlled by human beings. In the Late Middle Ages, the plague pandemic has become a world-changing precedent that changed people’s perception of life once and for all. For example, in Boccaccio’s Decameron, the society suffering from plague is depicted in the form of two separate worlds untied by chaos. On the one hand, there were people who saw any social interaction as potential death, so they isolated themselves in their homes and saved food and resources in order to prolong their stay. On the other hand, Boccaccio depicted people who saw despair as a chance to laugh in the face of death by going out and drinking. As there was no common ground between those two groups, the society was torn apart by fear and despair.

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The daily horrors of death made people question the value of their existence on earth as well as their belief in God. Indeed, as it was depicted in the “Dance of Death” series, death had no favorites or exceptions because it took away even the most dedicated worshipper without blinking an eye. In those allegory pictures, preachers, along with ordinary laborers and emperors, were destined to die. Thus, it may be concluded that the concepts of society and religion were practically destroyed by the plague, and the process of rehabilitation was only possible sometime after the pandemic termination.

The modern context of coronavirus pandemic may be rightfully compared to the plague outbreak in the Late Middle Ages. Indeed, the deaths caused by the disease cannot be categorized and analyzed because everything that is taking place is nothing but havoc. However, unlike a few centuries ago, people are provided with relevant information on the topic and educational materials on how to protect themselves. In such a way, awareness makes people less terrified of other people. Moreover, social isolation did not mean isolation per se because people were connected to each other virtually. Thus, it becomes evident that while coronavirus outbreak modified people’s perception of social interaction, the very concept was not destroyed.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Plague, Religion, and Society in Literature'. 5 January.

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