By T. Fincham
Was once Thomas Hardy clinically depressed or simply syphilitic? was once Egdon Heath imbued with melancholic vapours? And does this clarify why a lot of his characters suffered from melancholy, took their very own lives or constructed homicidal traits? This publication by way of a rural GP explores those and plenty of different scientific concerns in Hardy's lifestyles and works.
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Extra resources for Hardy the Physician: Medical Aspects of the Wessex Tradition
1982: 16) For Tess, it is doubt; for Jude and Sue, it is doubt – for Tom, it so often appears to be doubt. Deeply enwrapped in exciting and erotic theory, the medical profession failed to provide the practical support in sexual matters that was needed by nineteenth-century women and their male partners. Although contraception had been available in England since the Restoration and abortion practised since the Middle Ages, ‘medical practitioners spent the better part of a century turning a deaf ear to appeals of the advocates of birth control’ (McLaren 1978: 116).
Amongst the remedies for which young Jude had to ﬁnd customers in order to obtain grammars were ‘Physician Vilbert’s golden ointment, life-drops and female pills’ (JO 21). These ‘French or Female pills were guaranteed to cure a suppression of the menses’ (McLaren 1978: 81). In other words, quack physicians openly marketed them as abortifacients because the medical profession declined to involve itself in such issues. The implication must be that Arabella, the worldly-wise pigbreeder’s daughter, avoided pregnancy by the regular use of abortifacients.
If Gosse was correct in remembering the jaundice, then Hardy did very well to survive an infection, which in the twenty-ﬁrst century ‘even with full supportive (intensive) care’ has a mortality rate of 10 per cent to 20 per cent (Kumar 2002: 80). ’ (CP 152). The same door through which Horace Moule had voluntarily stepped by slitting his throat in his rooms at Cambridge, seven years previously. Hardy had revisited Cambridge in October 1880, just before the start of his serious illness and was, perhaps at last coming to terms with the death of his friend and mentor.
Hardy the Physician: Medical Aspects of the Wessex Tradition by T. Fincham