Bloom’s Taxonomy: It is never just sickness


“An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”. People try to avoid the sickness in our normal lives, which is the not case in literature. On contrast, sickness is important for serving as symbols or indicating the themes of the work in Foster’s opinion. Despite the style such as Romanticism like it in “A Scarlet Letter”, or realism like “Daisy Miller” or “Age of Innocence”, sickness indicates the tension between people and the society through the form of guilt, passion and burden. In “Daisy Miller”, the young character dies of malaria, also know as roman fever. Fever, connoted with craziness, not only stands for Daisy’s passion, energy and free spirit, which was not allowed in the society depicted, but also means the punishment given by the society for her energy. ‘“I don’t care,” said Daisy in a strange tone, “whether I have Roman fever or not”.’ Daisy stated so when she insists to see the moonlight, which brought her malaria and death. When she says that she does not care about malaria, she is also indicating that she does not care about the rules that set in the society in the book. Her passion and free spirit brought her death socially while malaria brings her the real death. This sickness implies the theme of the book, that is the individual struggle with the society. Such tension was also depicted in “A Scarlet Letter”. After Arthur had adultery with Hester, he caught the sickness, which is actually his guilt, the product of love but also the product of social norm. The sickness tortures Arthur’s health, which represents the oppressing of the extremely strict Puritan society towards humanity. Also in “Age of Innocence”, Mrs. Mansion Mingott’s overweight shows that she was held by the weight but also that she is held by the social norms. “The burden of Mrs. Manson Mingott’s flesh had long since made it impossible for her to go up and downstairs,” Mrs. Mansion Mingott loves Ellen and even understands what is between Ellen and Newland, which shows that she has certain free spirit; however, she has to make the decision to ask Ellen to go back to her husband because of the social norm. Such heavy social norm is holding her free spirit just like how her over weight is holding her from moving freely. All in all, sickness represents different themes and different symbols, and just like Foster says:”… is rarely just sickness.”

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