Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The production of medicoethical misconduct: medical ethics and vivisection in Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science


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
  • literature and medicine
  • History

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.