Leprosy In The 19th Century

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Lepers faced further levels of humiliation through their communities, as they were typically forced to identify themselves as individuals with leprosy due to the strong fear of contagion. Firstly, those suspected of having leprosy were reported and judged by a group of people, who then decided the lepers fate. There were also rituals carried out to expose those with leprosy to the community. Once identified, lepers were to wear attire that signified their condition to others. A successful way of achieving this was through the use of various symbols such as yellow badges, placed on clothing. Sound-making objects such as clappers or bells were used, allowing others to be aware of their presence. Adding to this, clothing such as “Long robes, gloves, horns thrown over the shoulder…” was to be worn.. …show more content…
To worsen the macabre appearance, gloves and masks worn over mouths were often part of the attire. These measures in exposing a leper comforted the fear of contagion held by society, but additional items of clothing were used to actually prevent contagion, such as shoes. Despite the filthy streets that may have contributed to illness, lepers were forced to wear shoes, as their illness was considered the real threat. Comparatively, poles were given to lepers as means to avoid them physically touching items within the community. A key idea amongst these various rules, was the desire of distance between lepers and society, to ensure safety. Essentially, the clothing and objects that lepers were pushed to use, marks the humiliation they endured because of society’s fear regarding contagion. However, the treatment of lepers created out of fear in the high middle ages may not have been so cruel in comparison to other forms of

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