Presentation on theme: "The Summary. Michael Mompellion from the novel ‘year of wonders’ is not what one would call a conventional character, in fact as pointed out by Anna Frith,"— Presentation transcript:
The Summary. Michael Mompellion from the novel ‘year of wonders’ is not what one would call a conventional character, in fact as pointed out by Anna Frith, he is somewhat of an ‘enigma.’ He is a charismatic young priest, who had recently taken up position within the village of Eyam, before the plague struck. Though well mannered and seemingly upper class he is not from the well off family that Anna originally thought he was from. His career trajectory has been the result solely of personal ability and application, and also the luck of finding a patron within Elinor, (his wife’s) father, who recognizes his academic potential and funds his education. The fact that Mompellion Is in fact lower class, but has married above his station with Elinor, is educated like the wealthy, yet still interacts with the lower class easily demonstrates an unusual social mobility for the time period.
Many people, however, still questioned his marriage to Elinor, due to the difference in social standings between them. Mompellion’s intelligence and initiative is the reasons that he is used as a leader whilst the town is in crisis during the outbreak of the plague. In the beginning, he is truly hesitant over the position as a leader, taking into account his relative short time period within the town, and also the Bradford’s standing as leaders. Soon however he takes up the task and dedicates himself to it fully. He insists on quarantine and then develops strategies such as conducting services in the open air (at Cucklett Delf), to minimize the spread of the plague.
Later he urges the villagers to burn their flea infested possessions that carry the plague. That he is able to convince the people of Eyam to follow his often unpopular directives says much for his personal commitment and magnetism. The trauma experienced by Mompellion's own family following the death of his father has, he states, helped him to understand suffering of men. He is capable of immense compassion and generosity of spirit.
The extent to which he is prepared to support his parishioners, spiritually, religiously through the novel is heroic. He visits the dying, praying with them and assisting in the writing out of their wills, determined as he is to honor his pledge that none shall die alone. He even goes to the extent of assisting in the digging of their graves. He pushes himself to the absolute limits, going without respite, until at last he collapses in front of his congregation. Mompellion is defiantly a man of the people.
The strongest nature Mompellion possesses is the force of his will. This is also adversely one of his most disturbing qualities. A quote from Elinor observes that his will ‘can drive him to do what any normal man cannot do.’ A following quote, ‘believe me, I have seen this for better and for worse’ suggests to the reader that she herself has been subjugated to this will. Mompellion is an even tempered man, and this is exhibited through his slight liberal tendencies. An example of this is his treatment of the former minister. The town threw him out, yet Mompellion is accommodating towards him allowing him to stay within Eyam’s boundaries.
He also consistently preaches about forgiveness, and condemns the old ways of papal barbarities committed in the past. A lead on from the power of Mompellion's will, is the determination he possesses to save his wife’s ‘soul.’ This determination borders on the fanatical, a trait often observed within members of the religious faith the entire Mompellion marriage is based upon Michael’s perverse view of forced celibacy will save his wife’s immortal soul. This is well hidden by Mompellion, however the audience does catch a snippet of his anger towards Elinor, and perhaps by extension all women, at his angry reaction to Jane Martin’s drunken wantonness.
A connection perhaps with the character of Mompellion is his stallion, Anteros. Anteros is the name of the Greek God of requited love. He was the very personification of mutual love, and punished those who spurned it. This is ironic, as the rector rejects physical love with his wife, spurning her. The god Anteros is also acquitted with lust, shooting arrows made of lead into humans, creating a passion without love. Why Mompellion has named his horse thus is intriguing. Perhaps as a reminder of the pitfalls love possesses or as a way to further force himself from his wife. The time of his coupling with Anna then is significant, as they come together just after Anna frees Anteros from his stable. Mompellion by the end of the novel is a different man. His faith has been broken by the loss of his wife Elinor, and with that comes much self loathing, and the ultimate rejection of divine purpose. ‘My whole life, all I have done, all I have said, all I have felt, has been based upon a lie.’ He deeply regrets his treatment of Elinor, and questions his leadership of the village during the plague year. He blames himself for man of the villager’s ills. Mompellion becomes himself a symbol of the villager’s loss and pain. Though vindicated as their savior he is a ‘bitter emblem, and embodiment of their darkest days.’