Heart Disease Heart = the symbolic repository of emotion Being stabbed in the heart = literally or figuratively = a broken heart “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin =a woman has heart trouble because of a stifling relationship and dies of the “joy that kills” … Types of hearts = the heart of stone – strength of heart- a fragile heart - a bad heart…all have interesting possibilities When characters have difficulties of the heart = we won’t be too surprised when emotional trouble becomes the physical ailment.
…and more disease Ponder these thoughts: • Not all diseases are created equal – TB (consumption) is on the literary frequency list rather than cholera- even though cholera was more frequent among the Victorians – but and ugly horrible smelly violent death. Except for Ibsen in A Doll’s House (AHEM) - Syphilis was not used (because of its association with prostitutes). • It is usually picturesque or mysterious = and =surprise= it has metaphorical or symbolic opportunities. TB is a wasting disease - so the suffers were delicate and fragile. • Plagues can make a statement about a whole city or country -as in Oedipus or Henry James’ Daisy Miller who dies of Roman fever – a true illness – but also indicative of the bad air she created with gossip. Aids is the mother lode of symbol and metaphor since it lies dormant and also because unknowing or knowing characters can infect others. • Post traumatic stress – especially in war stories – is a disease of the mind – and has resonance especially now. The Things They Carried and Sorrow of War address this in many ways.
It’s Never Just Heart Disease… Pump that keeps us alive…symbolic repository of emotion What shape were your childhood Valentine’s cards? Last year? Fall in love…we feel it on our hearts Lose a love…heartbroken Overwhelmed by emotion…our hearts are full to bursting
Bad heart… Bad love Loneliness Cruelty Disloyalty Cowardice Lack of determination Something seriously amiss at the heart of things
Diseases… Not all diseases are created equal Cholera: unsightly, painful, smelly, violent TB: picturesque (Poe “The Masque of the Red Death”) Syphilis, gonorrhea near epidemic late 19th century: Henrik Ibsen put STDs on the map STD = Moral corruption Diseases could be mysterious Plague = social devastation = champion
AIDS Picturesque? Mysterious? Symbolic? Political angle?