Chekov, Ibsen and Flaubert’s doctors : An ideo-historical literature essay on how the medical revolution of the 19th century changed the role of doctors
Abstract: Background: Today we are very likely to encounter exceedingly competent, courageous, charismatic and often times good-looking doctors as TV-show protagonists whilst flipping through the television channels. Just over a hundred years ago it would have been unimaginable for a doctor to lead a storyline, to be a well-liked hero, to even be described as competent. Aim: The purpose of this paper is to study how the medical revolution of the 19th century changed the role of doctors in society and consequently the portrayal of them in literary works and theatrical performances throughout time. Method: This essay is an ideo-historical literary analysis, with a hermeneutic approach of interpretation. The selection of landmark literary work and theatrical plays range from mid-17th century to contemporary times and are chosen on the basis of their popularity and influence. Results: The portrayal of doctors transforms from being figures used as laughingstocks, painted with colors of incompetence and deceptiveness to become highly respectable heroes of society whose steps should be followed and words should be listened to. Conclusion: An increased awareness of the different positions of doctors in society may bring the clinicians of today a better understanding about the conditions of their status. This insight might make it easier for them to navigating in a professional life with the new and ever-challenging well-read patient of today.
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