Doctors frequently appear in novels, stories, plays, and other forms of literature, because they play an indispensable role in society. Almost every reader can relate to interacting with doctors in their lives. In literature, doctors play characters ranging from a small background role to pivotal protagonists in different genres such as crime, science-fiction, drama, etc. From family practitioners in Jane Austen novels to leading characters in Sherlock Holmes stories, doctors in literature form fascinating characters who provide more than medical knowledge, they also have multidimensional characters representing human complexity.
Doctors in literature representing higher human values
Aside from healing diseases and providing medical advice, doctors also represent a source of rationality and wisdom in society. The nature of a doctor’s job compels them to be impersonal, to observe facts and recommend the best course of action to resolve problems and to promote the well-being of all people.
Some of the most iconic medical figures that play a largely positive role in literature are as follows:
Famous doctors in literature with complex characters
Human beings are multifaceted. Hence, doctors are depicted in literature as varied and complex. Many popular stories portray doctors as antagonists or people who play complicated roles. Nevertheless, even in such cases, doctors are cast into respected and awe-inspiring roles that influence the well-being of people in different ways.
These are some of the greatest and best-known medical figures in literature that have existed for decades and centuries and are still referenced today in movies, television shows, and stories. It is interesting to note that the doctors featured were all men, as a reflection of the time in which such content was written. Women have faced barriers to education and the medical profession, and it is evident from the lack of female doctors featured prominently in classical literature.
Today, female doctors appear in modern stories and mostly in television series, and it is reasonable to expect that more pivotal and enduring female medical characters will be written in the future to portray the more diverse and progressive society we now live in.
There are thousands of books in which doctors are invariably mentioned as part of the scenery or as active participants. What remains the same is that doctors are viewed as a part of the backbone of any society, and people depend on them to have a sensible head at the time of crisis. Doctors are not only expected to cater to physical illnesses but also act as influential members of society. They represent higher human values as they heal not only the wealthy and higher classes of society but also the poorest and the most disadvantaged.
However, they are also complex characters who display human fallibility. If previous literature is any indication, doctors in literature will remain as a representation of rationality, knowledge, and the embodiment of human intelligence.
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