Representations of disease and illness pervade the seven novels written by Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë during the years of 1847–1853. These representations include cholera, consumption, rabies, rheumatism, fevers, alcoholism, hypochondria, hysteria, monomania, madness, and more. Since medicine was not able to make any real advances in curing disease until after the mid-nineteenth century, with smallpox being the only exception, the Brontës’ representations of ill-health may be a natural consequence of the prevalence of disease and death in early Victorian life.1 Diseases that are now preventable through vaccination, such as influenza and rabies, and diseases that are now treatable with modern medicine, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera, still took a toll on human life. Visibly present, death and disease were routine parts of life in Victorian England.
KeywordsGender Ideology Literary Text Scarlet Fever Delirium Tremens Medical Anthropology
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