property. She depicts an English
society that focuses on the material, which is ironically juxtaposed with her
portrayal of moral values.1
the Georgian era, Hypochondria, also known as the ‘English malady’ became a
fashionable disease. Social propriety of the genteel placed significance in
sensibilities and excessive emotions, including suffering, which meant an
advanced consciousness. Nervousness and invalidism established a social and
cultural identity. Both men and women experienced delicate nerves and was
embodied in the figure of the hypochondriac. Medicine advanced as part of a larger expansion of market society
due to the development of the hypochondriac as a cultural figure. In addition,
the movement of individualism in bourgeois capitalist England was profoundly
concomitant with the popular figure of the hypochondriac. Hypochondria changed society in many ways not just medically, but
politically, socially, and economically as well. Consequently, it was the
cultural progression that overrode medical knowledge itself with its obsession
of nervousness, not because of scientific advancements.2
was rightfully dubious about the fashionable trends of illness and nerves. The
Heywood’s in Sanditon did not have
the funds nor the time to “indulge in Symptoms of Gout and a Winter at Bath.”3 The text
is obviously comic as you have to have enough money to indulge in hypochondria,
to enjoy ill health. Didactic contrasts are promptly set up in the first
chapter between Mr Thomas Parker and Mr Heywood. With Mr Parker being the
eldest in his family, his lack of profession is quite common for one of his class.
This permits him to dedicate his time to relish in his hypochondria and indulge
in the commercialisation of leisure. Mr Heywood is a much more immobile character
who rarely moves away from
1 Mark Schorer, The Humiliation of Emma Woodhouse
(Teaneck, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson
University, 1959), p. 85.
2 Helen Malson, Hypochondria and nervousness in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
(Rutledge, 1997), p. 55-56.
3 Jane Austen, Sanditon, Chapter 2, p. 303.