Final draft paper1

Final draft paper1 - Chelsea McMullen Sarah Parker ENGL 126...

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Chelsea McMullen Sarah Parker 2/24/10 ENGL 126 The field of medicine in the mid-seventeenth century experienced a rapid and extraordinary amount of change and discovery. Doctors were becoming more knowledgeable and legitimate in their studies and practices. No longer were they relying on ancient information, but were now focusing on modern methods and new discoveries, a major area of focus being the circulation of the blood. The playwright, Molière, explored this discovery in his play, The Imaginary Invalid, through the young doctor, Thomas Diaforus. He did so by using literary techniques that were meant to satirize this character and his lack of acknowledgment of the new theory, which was widely accepted by the time the play was written. In order to understand the satirization that Molière uses in this play, one must be fully aware of the scientific knowledge available in the mid- 1600s. With complete understanding of the topic, it is clear that he uses the contemporary discussion of circulation and the associated debates as a means to satirize the non- progressive opinions of medical doctors of this time. The first theorist on the topic of the circulation of blood was the physician Galen. Despite his incorrect theories on the topic, they became the pillar of medicine for thousands of years (Marcus, 28). While it may be difficult for the modern day population to comprehend, Galen believed that all the blood that was contained in one’s body came from food. The digested food became “venous blood” and was thought to “ebb and flow” through the liver where it gathered nourishment to bring to all the parts of the body. The blood then ebbed back to the liver and was brought to the right ventricle of the heart by
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the vena cava. From the right ventricle, the pulmonary artery brought some of the blood to the lungs, so they could be nourished. The rest of the blood passed through tiny holes called “pores” in the dividing septum of the heart itself, into the left ventricle, where the blood met “inspired” air, which had passed through the lungs and came into the heart through the pulmonary vein. The venous blood concocted with the inspired air and thus became arterial blood, which was endowed with the person’s spirit. From the left ventricle, the blood exited through the aorta, and was spread throughout the body. Galen believed that venous blood was driven out of the heart during systole, when the heart was compressed, and brought blood and air into the heart during diastole, where the heart grew larger, and the apex beat occurred, making the heart hit the top of the chest (William Harvey). Galen’s theory was so in depth and held such authority that no one dared to question it until the seventeenth century AD, 2,000 years after his death. William Harvey’s
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Final draft paper1 - Chelsea McMullen Sarah Parker ENGL 126...

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