Friday, February 5, 2010

Human Beings versus Statistics

As I was reading Defoe's account of the plague, I noticed the seriousness of his writings but I also saw the dehumanization of the people around him. Like we discussed in class, he begins with the Bills of Mortality which outlines the importance of the situation but also reduces the people suffering around him to mere numbers and statistics. He then describes the reaction of the people as the counts increased or decreased. He does not mention any specific names because that would bring out the personal aspect. The situation of the man's family was sad but it was more sobering than really heartbreaking because it wasn't very personal. We mentioned on Tuesday that this story brought the empirical and sentimental together but it wasn't as effective if he had used actual names. I think Defoe did this intentionally and it I think it is successful on the reader.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this discussion of Defoe's dehumanization of people in his account of the plague, and I think it is very important. Another important facet of the dehumanization besides the Bills of Mortality is the long account of people being shut up in houses. In these cases, people are no longer people but animals put into cages, as if they were diseased dogs or... rats.