Character Profiles

Anna Frith
Anna Frith who is a mother, widow and servant at the time that the disastrous plague reaches her village, Eyam, narrates the story. Anna loses her whole family to the plague disease, after she has already been through the passing of her dear husband, Sam, in a horrible mining accident. Although there are moments when Anna feels that there is nothing left to live for in her life, she finds an inner strength and resilience that not only propels her through the tragedy, but allows her to grow in stature as a result.
Anna comes from a croft that had ever been ‘a joyless place’ and as is typical of women of that period and class, she was not educated in a formal setting. Anna, however, has a natural intelligence and a thirst for knowledge, and she nourishes this through her relationship with Elinor Mompellion, when she works as a servant for her at the rectory. ‘Within a year of her coming’ Elinor teaches Anna to read as well as providing her with tutelage in all aspects of life. She comments that Elinor never let ‘a minute pass without trying to better me, and for the most part I was a willing pupil.’ Anna thrives on this knowledge and she gains confidence and self-assurance from it and she is able to apply it in practical terms, to the situations that she faces once the plague takes hold of her community.

Anna blossoms in her role as healer as she sees from her work that it was possible to lose herself in it and that ‘much good’ could come of it. When she perceives the need for help, she will go to great lengths to provide assistance, even if it means that she puts herself at risk. Anna is by no means perfect, and this is clearly illustrated when she smashes the ‘delicate dishes’ one by one, after feeling the pangs of jealousy at the relationship shared by Elinor and Michael Mompellion.
Anna has come full circle. She has already been a wife and mother but nature robbed her of her original family, but through the strength of her character that has...