Comparing the Duty of the Physician in Dracula, Frankenstein, and Awakenings

Powerful Essays
Through close analysis of the respective physicians illustrated within Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and Oliver Sack's Awakenings, one is able to comment upon their respective duties. The duty of the doctor, as portrayed in these texts, can be seen to be highly varied and immensely diverse.

Bram Stoker's Dracula deals with the role and duty of the doctor, and with the relationship between them and their patient extensively. Stoker, from a medical family himself (his brothers were doctors), creates a very stereotypical male doctor/female patient scenario with Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing aiding Lucy Westerna and Mina Harper. Of the two physicians however, Seward comes to illustrate the failings of Victorian English society, and is also romantically involved with one of the patients (Lucy Westerna) which confuses and muddles the normal duties one would expect from a doctor to their patient. From these distractions and lack of belief in the supernatural - modern Victorian society dismissed the supernatural - Dr. Van Helsing stands at the forefront of our attention in the battle against Dracula, and demonstrates his duties admirably for all to see.

Doctor Abraham Van Helsing is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating characters we encounter within the novel. Aside from his role as "a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day" (Stoker, 121), he is also a gentleman of much compassion and care. At his introduction, Van Helsing is obligated to rush to the Westenra household in Whitby to attend to Lucy Westrena's mysterious illness, as a request from Dr. Seward. Due to the fact that Dr. Seward sucked gangrene poison from Van Helsing's wound ...

... middle of paper ... the extreme case of neglect as illustrated in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein with Victor, to the loyal, courageous Dr. Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's Dracula, to the personally moving battle of Dr Sacks in Awakenings. All offer a different level of duty to their patient(s), despite the fact that all have sworn the same Hippocratic Oath.


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Sacks, Oliver. Awakenings. London: Picador, 2002.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Broadview Editions, 3rd Edition 2012.

Smith, Andrew. Dracula and the Critics. Sheffield: Pavic Publications, 1996.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Penguin, 1998.
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