Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Bright Side of the Black Plague...

I am coming up for air in the midst of grading exams to share one of the funniest and best answers I've read...probably ever.

I gave them a series of 5 major historical dates and asked them to identify them and indicate their significance to the development of the English language - one of the dates was 1348-9 (first wave of the plague to hit England).

One of my favorite students began his very thorough and well-informed answer with this: "1348-9 - the black plague raged during these years and marked the mass death of [a third] of Europe. On the up side, those of the lower class who survived started to emerge as the new middle class because they were a rare source of labor" (emphasis mine).

Of course he's right about the general socio-economic results, but who would've concluded that the Black Plague actually had a silver lining?? It's like, "never a group to be daunted by a little sniffle, the those plucky medieval laborers decided to adopt a "glass is half full" attitude toward the bubonic plague..." :)

This will keep me giggling for days...


At 11:47 PM, Blogger A Girl From Texas said...

You know that's very very interesting. I've been giving a lot of thought to the aftermath of the Bird Flu virus. (Probably too much thought)

If indeed it is going to take as many lives as predicted, that means economics will change.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger KLee said...

Hi! (I got to you via jo(e) and have been reading you for a while now, so forgive me for just popping in like this!)

I had an Early English professor in college who once made this same correlation. I thought it was rather odd then, but he (and your student) have a interesting point. Craftsmen could demand (and get) higher wages, housing was now more plentiful, and there were fewer people now to eat what foodstuff remained. It's odd to think that some people actually benefited from the Black Death, but I'm sure there were people who did.

I hope that we don't have a similar situation like that with Bird Flu.


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