By Clare Hanson (auth.)
Read Online or Download A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750–2000 PDF
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Extra info for A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750–2000
It is impossible to determine whether Southcott was in fact suffering from organic disease (for example, a tumour or fibroid growth) or whether hers was a case of what we would now call hysterical pregnancy. The case became notorious and inspired much satirical comment, not only at the expense of Southcott but also at that of the clergymen and doctors who had supported her case. Thomas Rowlandson's cartoon 'A Medical Inspection: or Miracles Will Never Cease' is particularly instructive. It shows a monstrously corpulent Southcott, from the rear, lifting her skirts to display her belly and towering over a clergyman on her left and three doctors on her right.
Some medical texts might well have reflected and reinforced anxieties about such protest. Gradually, however, as the rural population declined in percentage terms, attention shifted to the condition of the urban poor. Their health came under far more systematic scrutiny, particularly from doctors working in the newly established hospitals and dispensaries. One such figure was Augustus Bozzi Granville who, in 1818, published a report on the practice of midwifery at the Westminster General Dispensary.
Yet at the end of the novel, when Adeline is once again held in the loving gaze of her mother, maternal feeling is again powerfully endorsed: Mrs Mowbray at that moment eagerly and anxiously pressed forward to catch her weak accents, and inquire how she felt. 'I have seen that fond and anxious look before,' she faintly articulated, 'but in happier times! ' (p. 268) To this extent, Adeline Mowbray offers a conservative and regressive version of the mother-daughter plot, which features in several novels of the period.