“Year Anna gains no satisfaction from the religious
“Year of Wonders” suggests that Nature and Religion will always be opposing forces. -Discuss- Geraldine Brooks’ novel of the 17th century plague, the “Year of Wonders”, conveys how religion and nature will inevitably remain opposing forces, through the eyes of the protagonist, Anna.
Several notions regarding this topic exist throughout the novel, yet are mainly brought to mind by the inquisitiveness of Anna, and her independence. For instance, the beginning of Anna’s scepticism can be seen by her confusion of the topic of idolatry in regard to her unconditional love for her children.She begins to secretly doubt the legitimacy of the Bible’s interpretation of God’s words, due to the harshness of its nature. Denying the primitive mentality of the town, Anna follows her own instincts of liberty by discovering homeopathic remedies and medicinal plants due to the inspiration of the Gowdies. With this, she begins a journey of near solitude in reference to the inner workings of the town.
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None of which, however, would have been possible if not for the compassion of her friend, Elinor. Anna gains no satisfaction from the religious explanations of her suffering, and rebukes the idea of death being a righteous judgement of God.But rather, Anna finds a state of peace and tranquillity in the Gowdie’s herbal garden where her intelligence can flourish as she is no longer constrained by the prison of religion and the conformed patriarchal society. The events that take place in the town of Eyam are conveyed through the footsteps of Anna Frith. As these events take place, her scepticism begins to unravel, thus, revealing her true inner feelings and we see an evolution in her own personality.
Even at the beginning of the novel, questions regarding faith arise as Anna contemplates over several key issues depicted in the text.The topic of idolatry is the first to be exposed, and reveals a new and independent side of Anna which was contrary to Christian faith. We view Anna as the heroine of the novel and her outlook on this issue of Nature versus Religion portrays Geraldine Brook’s contention of separating the two themes, therefore making them opposing forces. We see Anna’s initial struggle with idolization where she cannot comprehend how “God warns us not to love anything above Him” yet, “sets in her heart such a fierce assion for her children” With this, the reader begins to understand how Anna cannot apply the teachings of the Bible into a functional lifestyle, and it seems to contradict with the fundamental laws of nature’s way of parenthood. The callousness of the supposed authoritative world of God is also disallowed into Anna’s heart. This inevitably persuades Anna to take more natural means of dealing with the severity of the plague, rather that, according to her, pointless prayer.
Within herself, she admonishes this mentality. Our prayers in the church bring no relief” is all Anna needs to hear to make her final decision. God is described as a “poor listener” in the novel, yet in the novel, this makes Anna a true sceptic. Rather than pursuing a life of seemingly ridiculous prayer, which seemed to have no effect, Anna takes on the role of her inspirations, Mem and Anys Gowdie. The fact of how nature brings miracles, not God, is shown through the prosperity of Anys.
She is described as “glowing with good health”; this gleaming vigour spreads “all the way from the top of her glossy head to the tips of her fine, strong fingernails. Anna reveals how “she had soon felt the benefit of eating greens, which were not experienced from religious practices. Without the help of Elinor, Anna’s selfless friend, her rate of learning would not have been achievable. When Elinor discovered that Anna “hungered to learn”, she, in a metaphorical sense, commenced by “shovelling” knowledge to Anna, thus, enhancing her capacity of solitude and eradicating her submission to men which, once again, is contrary to Biblical teachings. This revolution of Anna further implies the separation of nature and religion, and we soon discover how she makes this clear distinction.This is separation is made after stubbing her toe on a rock, she contemplates; “Perhaps the plague was neither God nor the Devil, but simply a thing in Nature, as the stone on which we stub a toe. ” Disbelieving in God’s role of the assortment of every “speck of dust” Anna makes it clear that “she did not see it so.
” She gains little satisfaction from religion, and takes more natural means to satisfy her needs. Anna begins to develop her true innate potential by leaving the Christian lifestyle.She quickly admonishes the idea of suffering and death being God’s holy and righteous judgement, along with the barbaric behaviour of the town.
Instead she gains a euphoric sense of wellbeing from learning and interacting with nature in the Gowdie’s garden. She and Elinor work together to study herbal remedies which fires up Anna’s personality which would have not been possible if not for this transition. Anna’s heroism further grows as she yearns dearly to use her passionate knowledge to “make the children stronger” by strengthening their bodies naturally to provide a “weapon” against the plague.This shows how both Anna and Elinor concur that Religion and Nature will remain opposing forces.
With this, it is shown how God cannot perform miracles, but rather, people need to take responsibility into their own hands. This can also be seen where the two women work together to save the future of Merry Wickford by putting their own lives in danger. “Year of Wonders” demonstrates how through Anna’s eyes; Religion and Nature will always remain opposing forces. Anna’s confusion of the ruthless word of God forces her to struggle with her unconditional love for her children.She cannot fathom how idolatry is sin, or why God would tempt us into something so seemingly innocent. She begins to see the world with a different perspective and understands the nature of unfortunate events. Her freedom from a religious life enabled her to grow beyond what would have been possible if she were to remain suppressed by men.
We can see clearly how Nature provides us with all our needs for prosperity as she gains inspiration from the Gowdies. Her peace is only gained from ignoring Christianity and leading a life involved with nature, which is portrayed as a more beneficial side than religion.