Medieval society was based on familial and advantageous relationships. Not only was it important to have familial ties, but also it was also virtually required to care for the people around you. When the Black Death spread, the organization of villages and towns disintegrated because of fear and the emergence of self-preservation. Boccaccio, in his introduction to The Decameron, underscores how his fellow Florentines acted out of fear, fear of death and of the disease spreading. He states that individuals isolated themselves from cities with others that were not sick, thus decreasing the likelihood that the plague would spread. Most importantly though, Boccaccio indicated that the sick were being deserted by family, friends, and neighbors. The fear that the plague caused was great enough to displace familial bonds and disturb the social norms. If people had stayed and cared for their loved ones, perhaps more would have survived. With many workers and employers d...
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...aracter that no one could escape from and people visualized that fear with a hooded skeleton that spared no one in the end because it was immortalized in paintings and poems like The Dance of Death, but death also reminded people not to waste their lives.
The Black Death changed the medieval world, but the responses of those who lived through and survived it helped to reshape and reform the world they lived in. Whether it was through the changing relationships between families, men, and women; the cosmic and astronomic explanations of illness; or even seeing death as an entity that no person could escape from, these responses indicate the need and want for change in a society that was dealing with an enormous loss. The effects of the Black Death were the catalyst to move toward a more rational, humanistic world that wanted to go back and forget the middle ages.
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