By William Shakespeare
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Additional info for Measure for Measure (The Pelican Shakespeare)
The doctor's estimate, even of a confiding patient," George Eliot notes in "Janet's Repentance," "was apt to rise and fall with the entries in the day-book; and I have known Mr. Pilgrim to discover the most unexpected virtues in a patient seized with a promising illness " (2). If the eye for gain subverts the healing process of the sickroom, " the eye of research," for which Eliot commends Lydgate, is at once too penetrating and too remote to serve its reconciliatory purpose. The exclusion of the doctor's gaze from the sickroom signifies an attempt to place the body outside of the power and knowledge relations that, as Foucault puts it, "invest human bodies and subjugate them by turning them into objects of knowledge.
She believed moreover, apropos of such extreme seclusion, that the interruption of other thoughts upon one's own mental activity decomposed nervous matter and could do positive injury to the brain. Nightingale's profound sense of the invasiveness of bodies, their intrusion on time, on health, on the very air she breathed, may, I am suggesting, have been the primary determinant of her decision to be, as both nurse and patient, one who controls and limits that invasiveness. 86 Yet by interring her own body in a series of secluded sickrooms, declaring it, in effect, to be no body insofar as its customary functions were concerned, and by dedicating her life to the institution of hygienic procedures on a global scale, Nightingale enacted a familiar narrative of subjection as well.
Every woman is a nurse, " wrote Florence Nightingale at the beginning of her enormously popular how-to book Notes on Nursing}9 She could as easily have stated as her cultural given that every woman is a patient. 61 M. Jeanne Peterson has argued that endemic physical and mental illness was far from the Victorian female norm,62 but as Caroline Helstone in Shirley and Janet Dempster both discover, sickness or the Life in the sickroom 27 nursing of sickness, in the home or among the neighboring poor, were two primary modes of self-expression and activity available to women of the middle and upper classes.