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"The Doctor" Essay

2010 words - 8 pages

In the 1991 film titled “The Doctor”, William Hurt portrays Dr. Jack MaKee, a cardiothoracic surgeon coming to terms with issues related to his newly diagnosed laryngeal cancer.
MaKee is presented in the film as a successful and well-respected doctor, quite adept at his surgical skills who, along with his colleagues, performs procedures on and glibly interacts with patients, referring to them as diagnoses rather than people. Jack’s relationships with his wife and son appear to have suffered due to Jack’s work schedule and time away from home. Jack’s wife seemingly has created a personal and professional existence devoid of Jack’s presence, while Jack’s son interacts only with his father via phone conversations. Though Jack lives in a beautiful home, providing amply for the basic needs of his family and himself, Jack’s life consists only of long and frequent workdays, with a history of family neglect on a personal level, complete with the repeated disregard of important events for both his wife and son.
Early in the film, we learn that MaKee has been experiencing symptoms related to an, as-yet, undiagnosed problem. Jack visits with an older, small-town physician and family friend who merely prescribes an antibiotic to treat MaKee’s symptoms. In the midst of a car-ride, following another forgotten event to support his wife’s personal and professional interests, Jack’s symptoms worsen, prompting him to seek a doctor with more experience and knowledge to diagnose his condition. Jack light-heartedly schedules an appointment with a specialist, recommended by his core group of friends and fellow physicians, not only because this person is competent, but an “attractive” female as well. MaKee’s mind-set and approach to the appointment is positive, seemingly more interested in becoming personally involved with his female colleague rather than her diagnostic abilities. Jack quickly learns that its “business-only” with his colleague, setting the stage for a series of eye-opening surprises Jack experiences throughout the remainder of the film. Within minutes of his diagnostic procedure, Jack learns that his symptoms are due to a serious condition, necessitating immediate treatment. Jack quickly transitions from doctor to patient, becoming subject to the same type of treatment he had been giving, for years, to patients of his own. Not only is Jack surprised that his medical prowess and, in his opinion, “good looks” have no influence on his medical condition and treatment, but he is shocked to overhear his colleague who, in the midst of a phone conversation scheduling Jack’s urgent next appointment, refers to patients on her schedule as diagnoses, rather than names. Jack’s expressions during this scene represent shocking surprise, as he finds it incomprehensible how insensitive he has been treated during his appointment, and how Jack’s position within the hospital, coupled with his diagnosis, have no bearing on his treatment or concern for his condition....

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