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Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2021, 4(3); doi: 10.25236/AJHSS.2021.040318.

The Interpretation and Meaning of the Plague: Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year


Xinying Wang

Corresponding Author:
Xinying Wang

The School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China


As an exceptional disaster, the plague creates biological and cultural misunderstanding because of its cultural, natural and social connotations, invisible connotations, tendency to give rise to subjective constructions and contribute to secondary disasters. This article investigates Defoe’s account of the plague in A Journal of the Plague Year, a magnum opus of the plague literature, and discusses how it influenced individual and social interpretation of the plague. It shows how the author's interpretation embodied his own perspective and general aspects of the era, and the ‘appearance’, ‘record’ and ‘saving’ of the plague. It also retrospectively considers their behavioral yardstick and thought criterion, discusses the origin and mechanism of the negative metaphors in the plague, assesses the self-construction of those confronted by diseases and anxiety, reflects on the plague, and writes a super-personal and pan-historical spiritual meaning. This enlightens the present by providing insight into the disasters that mankind once confronted and survived.


Cultural Mapping, Meaning Construction, Plague, Secondary Disaster

Cite This Paper

Xinying Wang. The Interpretation and Meaning of the Plague: Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year. Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences (2021) Vol. 4, Issue 3: 88-96. https://doi.org/10.25236/AJHSS.2021.040318.


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