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Comparing The Duty Of The Physician In Dracula, Frankenstein, And Awakenings

3715 words - 15 pages

 
Through close analysis of the respective physicians illustrated within Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and Oliver Sack's Awakenings, one is able to comment upon their respective duties. The duty of the doctor, as portrayed in these texts, can be seen to be highly varied and immensely diverse.

Bram Stoker's Dracula deals with the role and duty of the doctor, and with the relationship between them and their patient extensively. Stoker, from a medical family himself (his brothers were doctors), creates a very stereotypical male doctor/female patient scenario with Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing aiding Lucy Westerna and Mina Harper. Of the two physicians however, Seward comes to illustrate the failings of Victorian English society, and is also romantically involved with one of the patients (Lucy Westerna) which confuses and muddles the normal duties one would expect from a doctor to their patient. From these distractions and lack of belief in the supernatural - modern Victorian society dismissed the supernatural - Dr. Van Helsing stands at the forefront of our attention in the battle against Dracula, and demonstrates his duties admirably for all to see.

Doctor Abraham Van Helsing is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating characters we encounter within the novel. Aside from his role as "a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day" (Stoker, 121), he is also a gentleman of much compassion and care. At his introduction, Van Helsing is obligated to rush to the Westenra household in Whitby to attend to Lucy Westrena's mysterious illness, as a request from Dr. Seward. Due to the fact that Dr. Seward sucked gangrene poison from Van Helsing's wound in the past, Van Helsing does not question Dr. Seward nor does he waist any time getting to England. Even before his initial arrival to study Lucy, Van Helsing offers his eternal services. Van Helsing says "By good fortune I can leave at once, with out wrong to any of those who have trusted me. Were fortune other, then it were bad for those who have trusted, for I come to my friend when he call me to aid those he holds dear."(122). Here we see Van Helsing express his loyalty to Dr. Seward, saying that he can come at once with out breaking any promises, but if he had to break a promise he would for the sake of Dr. Seward.

Van Helsing exhibits veritable care and comfort to all parties when dealing with Lucy's sickness. As his greeting to Lucy on his first visit Van Helsing articulated his charm by saying "my dear young Miss, I have the so great pleasure because you are so much beloved. That is much, my dear, even were there that which I do not see."(123). A more than flattering quote which exemplifies Van Helsing's true kind-heartedness and concern with Lucy's comfort. Throughout Van Helsing's care for Lucy, he repeatedly compliments her and treats her with the utmost respect, care and attention. In...

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