According to the Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (It is to be noted that not all five may occur depending on the individual, and they do not always occur in this particular order.) These five stages can be used to analyze and better understand the characters in A Feast During the Plague.
Denial is the stage in which the individual refuses to acknowledge the fact that a loss has occurred. The young man, who states:
“But many of us still live, and we
Have no cause to be grieving. So
I propose we drink a toast to him
With glasses clinking and with shouts
As if he were alive.” (Pushkin, 96)
is clearly in denial of the fact that there are in fact many “cause(s) to be grieving”, and wishes to proceed “as if he were alive”.
In the stage of Anger, one begins to accept reality, and expresses frustration at the given situation. Envy is also a form of this frustration, as can be seen in Louisa’s scoffing attitude towards Mary:
“I can’t stand the jaundice-yellow hair of these Scotch girls.” (Pushkin, 99)
Bargaining is the stage in which the individual attempts to bargain with reality, in search of a solution or avoidance of the grief. This is clearly the main stage depicted throughout the literary work, in which the characters are gathered around a feasting table in which they attempt to sing and drink their woes away.
In Depression, individuals have finally completely come to terms with the situation, and feel a variety of emotions: listlessness, sadness, and fear. Perhaps the Priest, who urges the people to take the more conventional path of mourning, is at this stage:
“If the prayers of so many reverend men and women
Had not consecrated the common gravepit,
I would have thought that devils even now
Were torturing some ruined, godless soul,
Laughing as they dragged it to outer darkness.” (Pushkin, 102)
Acceptance is the last step in coping with grief, where the individual has completely come to terms with, and feels the strength to accept and overcome the given occasion of grief. The ending scene, in which “the Chairman remains, plunged in deep contemplation” seems to imply an oncoming Acceptance of the Plague.