Even as Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science continues in the tradition of cautionary tales of medicine and science, it also integrates nineteenth-century discussions of medical ethics, vivisection and women, further building on earlier criticisms of scientific hubris. By indicting a fictional medical doctor and his methodology, Heart and Science depicts the extremes of good and bad, ethical and unethical medicine—whether the doctor can care, and not simply solve the medical enigma—in light of a changing medical field that prized objectivity and distance from the subject over the old holistic way of listening to a patient in order to understand her malady. In reading Collins within his historical context and against a changing environment within the medical sciences, literary critics discern a gendered doctor-patient relationship and observe a Victorian author’s attempts to combat the fears of scientific advancement by using or aligning himself with a proto-feminist perspective.
- medical ethics/bioethics
- literature and medicine
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