Year of Wonders


Geraldine Brooks

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Themes and Colors
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Year of Wonders, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Community and Convention

Year of Wonders depicts a tiny community that is both isolated and under tremendous pressure. The advent of the plague is a catastrophe no one is prepared or qualified to face, and the voluntary quarantine completely separates the village of Eyam from the stabilizing presence of a wider society. Because of these two factors, the people of Eyam gradually begin to abandon social conventions, both practices that are unnecessarily restrictive and principles that uphold order…

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Female Sexuality and Friendship

Like all of England at the time, the village of Eyam is an intensely patriarchal community. The values and customs of the community and the men who are in charge of it restrict women’s personal agency and their ability to participate in public life independently of male family members. Female sexuality is particularly frightening and taboo, and social punishments for women deemed sexually transgressive are high. However, despite social restrictions, important female characters like Anna

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Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will

At least at the outset of the novel, the citizens of Eyam operate under the assumption that their lives – including random or everyday events – are part of a divine plan. The townspeople interpret good or bad developments as God’s rewards or punishments. The most powerful person in the town is the minister, who is supposed to be the closest to God and who explains to the people how the difficulties they encounter in…

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Science and Superstition

In Anna’s world, scientific knowledge is almost non-existent and most people believe that supernatural forces, both benevolent and malign, are active in everyday life. Christian institutions affirm God’s presence in every human event, and characters like Aphra assert the existence of a whole host of spirits, fairies, and demons, some of which might help cure an illness or attract a lover, but some of whom are working for the Devil. Meanwhile, most people are suspicious…

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Justice and Judgment

An uneventful town with few inhabitants, Eyam has very few governmental structures in place. Law and order are safeguarded by the vicar and the landed gentry. However, when plague arrives, the Bradfords abandon the town and Mompellion becomes much too preoccupied with tending the victims to handle affairs of justice. Meanwhile, the town must decide how to adjudicate crimes and transgressions it hasn’t faced before. Throughout the novel, two methods of administering justice are at…

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