29 September 2009
Reactions to Terror: The Bubonic Plague and its Consequences
Fear, “a feeling of agitation and dread caused by the presence of danger”, ultimately
limits the human mind from acting rationally (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear).
Directly linked to the outbreak of a pandemic disease, fear, as a consequence, engenders human
naiveté. The effects of the bubonic plague or rather, the Black Death, demonstrates a people as a
whole who chose to neglect human intelligence; hence, terror bred irrational behavior. Fear, the
crucial component of mass chaos, essentially enveloped the European continent. Thus, as the
bubonic plague unexpectedly engulfed and decimated a quarter of the European population, the
widespread fear and insecurity that struck millions of people inevitably resulted in different
behavioral patterns concerning religious clemency, physical survival, and outright indifference.
Throughout the plague, the behavioral tendency to fabricate supernatural answers overtly
illustrated the powerful presence of fear. Initially in 1665, as the bubonic plague began to spread
throughout Europe, London and her citizens were skeptical and yet, dumbfounded by the
presence of such a disease (Defoe 9). Soon enough, the virulent infection could no longer be
suppressed by the sheer number of deaths every week (Defoe 17). Ominous religious warnings
ultimately played a major role with the dissemination of constant and immediate fear (Defoe 21).
For instance, in
The Plague in Continental Europe
, Gabriele de’ Mussis proclaims God’s
judgment: “'I shall wipe man, whom I created, off the face of the earth. Because he is flesh and
blood, let him he turned to dust and ashes. My spirit shall not remain among man'” (Horrox 18).
Simply put, Mussis’s interpretation of the religious perspective stems from the, “entire human
race wallowing in the mire of manifold wickedness” (Horrox 18). Fearful of the Almighty’s
message, people illogically deduced that to shout, “I have been a Thief, I have been an Adulterer,