Year of Wonders

by

Geraldine Brooks

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Elinor Mompellion Character Analysis

The young and beautiful wife of Michael Mompellion, Elinor is Anna'a employer, her comrade in fighting the plague, and by the end of the novel her confidante and friend. Elinor acts as a big sister to the lonely Anna, teaching her to read, encouraging her to develop her powers of scientific reasoning, and helping her come to understand the events of her troubled past, such as her mother’s death and her father’s violence. In turn, Anna loves Elinor and regards her as a paragon of goodness. In fact, because of her physical fragility and generous attitude towards others, the whole town sees Elinor as the embodiment of innocence and purity, but it turns out she has a more complicated past. As a teenager she had a premarital affair and illegitimate pregnancy which she ended with a self-induced abortion, leaving her unable to bear children. Because of this, she considers herself forever marked by sin. While Michael Mompellion marries her, and seems to lover her, he also punishes Elinor for that sign throughout the entirety of their marriage. Ultimately, the deranged Aphra Bont kills Elinor in an act of senseless violence, but Elinor lives on through Anna’s daughter, whom Anna names after Elinor.

Elinor Mompellion Quotes in Year of Wonders

The Year of Wonders quotes below are all either spoken by Elinor Mompellion or refer to Elinor Mompellion. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Year of Wonders published in 2002.
Part 2: Ring of Roses Quotes

There was something in her that could not, or would not, see the distinctions that the world wished to make between weak and strong, between women and men, laborer and lord

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Sign of a Witch Quotes

“The man who sent it is a well-esteemed physician, and he says it is a remedy much thought of among the Florentine doctors…”

“But what is it?” I asked again.

“It contains a dried toad,” she said. I wept then, even though I knew her intentions were all of the best.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion (speaker)
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Wide Green Prison Quotes

That man was a ship’s barber; he pulled teeth and amputated limbs. He knew nothing of women’s bodies. But you do know. You can do this, Anna. Use your mother-hands.

Related Characters: Elinor Mompellion (speaker), Anna Frith
Related Symbols: Childbirth
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts Quotes

By gathering and sorting my own feelings so, I was finally able to fashion a scale on which I could weigh my father’s nature and find a balance between my disgust for him and an understanding of him; my guilt in the matter of his death against the debt he owed me for the manner of my life.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Josiah Bont , Aphra Bont
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

I was jealous of them both at once. Of him, because Elinor loved him, and I hungered for a greater share of her love than I could ever hope for. And yet I was jealous of her, too; jealous that she was loved by a man as a woman is meant to be loved.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: A Great Burning Quotes

To me, she had become so many things. So many things a servant has no right or reason to imagine that the person they serve will be. Because of her, I had known the warmth of a motherly concern – the concern that my own mother had not lived to show me. Because of her, I had a teacher and was not ignorant and unlettered still.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion
Related Symbols: Childbirth
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time Quotes

In lying with him, I had sought to bring her closer to me. I had tried to become her, in every way that I could. Instead, in taking my pleasure from his body, I had stolen from her – stolen what should have been hers, her wedding night.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Year of Wonders LitChart as a printable PDF.
Year of Wonders PDF

Elinor Mompellion Character Timeline in Year of Wonders

The timeline below shows where the character Elinor Mompellion appears in Year of Wonders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Apple-Picking Time
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...she would her husband. She tells herself that she does this for the sake of Elinor, her friend and Mompellion’s dead wife, but seems to doubt this stated motivation for her... (full context)
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...like a fruitful vine within your house,” a bitter reference to his own dead wife, Elinor. Then he deliberately drops the Bible on the floor. (full context)
Part 2: Ring of Roses
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Arriving at the rectory, where she works as a housemaid in the mornings, Anna finds Elinor Mompellion working in the garden. Elinor is a rare example of a well-born woman who... (full context)
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However, Anna doesn’t want Elinor to teach her herb knowledge, lest other people begin to think she is a witch.... (full context)
Part 2: The Thunder of His Voice
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...Bradfords and their dinner guests. While most of them behave as though she is invisible, Elinor Mompellion stops to ask after Anna’s well-being, a breach of convention that shocks the others.... (full context)
Part 2: Rat-Fall
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...on a child who, even in ordinary circumstances, might reasonably die before he grew up. Elinor proves a much more soothing presence, reading to Anna from the Bible. As Tom finally... (full context)
Part 2: Sign of a Witch
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Elinor helps Anna nurse Jamie. She brings letters from Mompellion’s colleagues at Oxford, doctors who recommend... (full context)
Part 2: Venom in the Blood
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Anna and Elinor try to nurse Mem, but she dies of her beating five days after Anys. Anna... (full context)
Part 2: Wide Green Prison
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When Anna arrives at the rectory the next day, Elinor greets her with the news that Mary Daniels is in labor. Since the Gowdies are... (full context)
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...is crosswise, meaning the birth is dangerous and perhaps fatal. She starts to panic, but Elinor reminds her that unlike the surgeon from her youth, who “knew nothing of women’s bodies,”... (full context)
Part 2: The Poppies of Lethe
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...turns out that many whole families have become sick in one day, and Anna and Elinor travel between houses nursing them,  while Mompellion performs rites over the dead. One of the... (full context)
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...the ghost of Anys Gowdie, until the figure lights a match and reveals herself as Elinor. Anna wonders how she will justify her visit to the cottage, but Elinor assumes that... (full context)
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Elinor insists that, since they are working together as equals, Anna call her by her Christian... (full context)
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Elinor goes on to confess that she herself was once addicted to poppy. She began using... (full context)
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Elinor grew up the beloved child of a rich widower in Derbyshire, sheltered from any knowledge... (full context)
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...to marry without parental consent. However, Charles kept putting off the wedding and even convinced Elinor to sleep with him, although premarital sex was a grave sin, especially for women. Eventually,... (full context)
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Elinor’s father and brother loved her despite her transgressions and rescued her as soon as she... (full context)
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The doctors medicated Elinor with poppy, first to relieve her pain and then to numb her emotional distress. Elinor... (full context)
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Elinor goes on to explain Mompellion’s backstory, which is also much different than Anna imagined it.... (full context)
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When Mompellion returned from Cambridge he befriended the fragile Elinor, recovering from her encounter with unrequited love and her disastrous pregnancy. He took her to... (full context)
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Anna reflects on how little she knew about Elinor and Mompellion before this. Although she thought she had insight into their characters, many of... (full context)
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Elinor explains her ideas about how best to combat the plague. On a map of Eyam,... (full context)
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Anna and Elinor spend the day sorting through the Gowdies’ herbs, trying to match them to descriptions in... (full context)
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Before leaving the cottage, Elinor hands Anna the small supply of poppy herbs and asks what should be done with... (full context)
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As the walk home, Anna resolves to work towards becoming “the woman that Elinor wished me to be.” However, in the back of her mind she notes that if... (full context)
Part 2: Among Those That Go Down to the Pit
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When Elinor and Anna return to the rectory, they find Mompellion in the churchyard, furiously digging one... (full context)
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...rites over the dead and immediately leaves to attend those who are sick that evening. Elinor worries aloud that the force of his will is greater than the strength of his... (full context)
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Anna and Elinor turn the rectory kitchen into a laboratory, in which they experiment with different ways of... (full context)
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...the Puritan Thomas Stanley begins attending services, as well as Eyam’s few non-conformist families. Moreover, Elinor invites Anna to share her pew, saying that their work together has made them family.... (full context)
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While Mompellion continues to attend to the dying, Elinor and Anna take on the case of nine-year-old Merry Wickford, the daughter of Quaker couple... (full context)
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As the ninth week approaches, Anna informs Elinor of the problem and Elinor suggests that they “get the dish out” themselves. Anna thinks... (full context)
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Anna and Elinor go to the Wickford cottage, where Merry now lives alone. When they tell her they... (full context)
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Anna and Elinor descend via ladder into the mine, which is slick, wet and dark. At any moment,... (full context)
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Finally, Elinor admits that they won’t be able to produce a dish by the end of the... (full context)
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...mine and cram boughs of wood into every crevice in the walls. Anna insists that Elinor climb out of the mine and leave her to face the final danger alone. As... (full context)
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Anna regains consciousness to find Elinor and Merry, neither of whom actually left the mine as instructed, frantically working to free... (full context)
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Everyone goes to the Miner’s Tavern – even Elinor, who normally couldn’t put her gentlewoman’s reputation at risk by frequenting such a seedy locale.... (full context)
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts
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...space to mourn Jamie and Tom, and that her grief is bottled up inside her. Elinor finds her and makes her sit down, stroking her hair and comforting her. (full context)
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Anna tells Elinor of the childhood traumas that molded Joss’s unscrupulous character. As a child he was conscripted... (full context)
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Telling Elinor about Joss’s life and realizing how much he has suffered makes Anna feel that her... (full context)
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Elinor reflects Joss must have followed the quarantine because he feared conscription if he fled toward... (full context)
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...of flagellation, an extreme practice that often gained popularity in cities during times of crisis. Elinor explains that flagellants believe they can satisfy God’s wrath by “grievous self-punishment.” Mompellion adds that... (full context)
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...should try to forget this incident, and asks that Anna not mention his outburst to Elinor. (full context)
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Elinor also does much to soothe Mompellion, telling him he always does what is best for... (full context)
Part 2: A Great Burning
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Anna and Elinor spend the day visiting widows and widowers who have survived the plague, since the elderly... (full context)
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On their walk home, Anna and Elinor muse over how the plague chooses its victims. They can understand some aspects of contagion... (full context)
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Elinor begins coughing and Anna is terrified, checking her for fever and insisting she sit down.... (full context)
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In the next few days, Elinor’s fever rises. While Mompellion tries to spend as much time with her as possible, Anna... (full context)
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As Elinor’s condition becomes graver and Anna becomes more exhausted and desperate, she even blames herself for... (full context)
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In a moment of lucidity, Elinor says she’s lucky to have been blessed with a husband like Mompellion and a friend... (full context)
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Elinor becomes delirious and cries out first for her erstwhile lover, Charles, and then for Mompellion,... (full context)
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Mompellion returns to his duties with fresh energy, and is playful and intimate with Elinor. He asks Elinor’s advice of how to dispose of the large, eerie crosses left in... (full context)
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Elinor and Anna take Aphra back to her cottage and begin the difficult task of cleaning... (full context)
Part 2: Deliverance
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Mompellion and Elinor have a rare argument. Elinor wants to hold a service of formal thanksgiving for Eyam’s... (full context)
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...weeks later, in August, Mompellion holds the Thanksgiving service in the Cucklett Delf. He and Elinor wear all white and carry flowers. But as Mompellion begins to pray, Aphra runs shrieking... (full context)
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...grass. Mompellion is startled and releases Aphra, who is roused to new anger. She slashes Elinor’s throat, killing her. Then she plunges it into her own chest and falls to the... (full context)
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time
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...a grave next to Josiah on the moors. After Anna washes and prepares her body, Elinor is buried in the churchyard, the novice mason misspelling her name on the tombstone. Mr.... (full context)
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Anna feels that it’s not in her power to “be a friend” to Mompellion as Elinor had asked her, but she takes care of him diligently, attending all the rectory’s household... (full context)
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...the loss of her friend. Instead of allowing herself to think, she focuses on what Elinor “might do or say” at every occasion. Finding Mompellion standing in Elinor’s garden one morning,... (full context)
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The next day, Anna finds Mompellion in Elinor’s room, sweating from standing by her bed so long. She gently leads him back to... (full context)
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...she feels the Gowdie cottage is too crowded with memories, like her early friendship with Elinor and the deaths of Mem and Anys, that she doesn’t want to relive. (full context)
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...knees in the courtyard and Anna rushes to him, holding him in her arms “as Elinor surely would.” Anna realizes she hasn’t touched a man in two years, and is struck... (full context)
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In the morning, Anna thinks of Elinor and asks Mompellion if having sex with her reminds him of his dead wife. Mompellion... (full context)
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Mompellion goes on to explain that in order to help Elinor atone for sinful lust that caused her to forfeit her sexual purity and perform an... (full context)
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Anna protests that he’s imposed on himself and Elinor a much harsher doctrine of sin and atonement than the one he preaches to the... (full context)
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...by thinking of all their unpleasant bodily emissions. Mompellion says he taught himself to ignore Elinor’s beauty and attractions and think of “her bile and her pus.” Anna finally understands Elinor’s... (full context)
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...no longer believes God exists. Rather, he thinks he was wrong to impose penance on Elinor and wrong to impose the quarantine on the villagers, who might otherwise have saved themselves.... (full context)
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Anna stumbles into the churchyard and throws herself on Elinor’s grave. She is angry that Mompellion made Elinor feel guilty for her natural character that... (full context)
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...avoid him. Here, she remembers Sam. She had been frustrated by his simplicity and envied Elinor her intelligent, sophisticated husband. Now, she understands that his intelligence had “twisted itself into perversion”... (full context)
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At home, Anna packs up her few remaining possessions: Jamie’s jerkin, Elinor’s medical books, and some herbal remedies. Mompellion arrives, having gone to Bradford Hall and been... (full context)
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...child and of Elizabeth’s attempted murder. He advises that Anna take Anteros and head to Elinor’s family estate, where she can find a job. Anna rides away with the baby, briefly... (full context)
Epilogue: The Waves, Like Ridges of Plow’d Land
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Anna reflects on a Margaret Cavendish poem Elinor once showed her, which compared the ocean’s waves to green meadows. Now she lives in... (full context)
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Anna summarizes her journey away from Eyam. Instead of settling at Elinor’s estate, she hires a wet nurse and continues on to Liverpool. She wants to distance... (full context)
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...by the Al-Andalus Arabs. Anna remembers Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, which she once studied with Elinor, and decides that since Muslim societies seem to have so much medical knowledge, she will... (full context)
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...she gave birth in Oran. She has Mompellion’s gray eyes, but Anna has named her Elinor. Anna takes one daughter in each hand and they walk out of the house, into... (full context)