The Use of Force analysis
Length: 398 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)
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• The Use of Force is about a girl who may have Diphtheria, but refuses to open her mouth to let the doctor look at her throat. After much struggle, emotional and physical, the doctor forces her to open her mouth and it turns out she does indeed have the disease.
• Setting – It’s not actually mentioned, but it is implied that it at the Olson’s house, a doctor is called to look at the daughter as she is not feeling well.
• The Characters –
o The parents are pretty static characters, they do not change much through the story
o The daughter, Mathilda, is somewhat dynamic as she changes from stubborn and defiant (line 18) to broken, betrayed and angry. (last paragraph)
o The doctor is the most dynamic character as, through his tactics changes his attitude. At first the doctor tries kindness and almost sides with the daughter over the parents (line 22). As the story goes on he tries scaring the girl into submission and (line 25), as his anger and frustration build, eventually resorts to force (line 28).
• Conflict –
o The main conflict is between Mathilda and the doctor. The doctor needs to check Mathilda’s throat to see if she has Diphtheria, but the girl will not open her mouth.
o There is also a conflict between the parents and themselves/the doctor. They want to go along with the doctor because they know he must check, but they do not want force or hurt their daughter in order to get her to submit.
• The doctor’s dilemma is that if he leaves the girl alone he will not be able to check if she has Diphtheria and may possibly die. If he continues on the road he’s going he will have to resort to measures that are socially unacceptable and even cruel.
• Irony –
o Although it seems cruel, and almost brutal, using force was the only remaining way for the doctor to check Mathilda’s condition to take appropriate action.
o There is also the irony that the parents keep telling Mathilda what a nice man the doctor is (line 24), but yet he had to physically force Mathilda to submit.
• In “The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams, the author uses Irony and Conflict to emphasize the fact that in order to do what is right or necessary we must sometimes do what seems / feels wrong or unnecessary.