Hospital Sketches

Perspective and Bias in "Hospital Sketches" College

The published letters by Louisa May Alcott titled “Hospital Sketches” tell of the experiences she, named “Mrs. Periwinkle”, faced as a Civil War nurse. Her three letters (also referred to as sketches), describe her journey to the hospital, life as a nurse, and of the wounded soldiers. Throughout the book, she frequently references herself and her own struggles, while disregarding the soldiers. This suggests that Alcott wanted to make literary history by writing her nursing experience, to promote herself and by embellishing her story.

Mrs. Periwinkle explicitly shows her concern for herself when she wrote “the sight of several stretchers, each with its legless, armless, or desperately wounded, occupant, entering work, not to wonder or weep; so I corked up my feelings, and returned to the path of duty, which was rather a ‘hard road to travel’ just then” (71). In the passage, the soldiers’ wounds upset Mrs. Periwinkle, but she struggles to internalize her emotions. This is ridiculous, because she is portraying herself as a brave and heroic individual, all for not expressing her emotions. Holding emotions is a minor sacrifice compared to those who lost their limbs and lives. Additionally, her initial shock seeing the soldiers puts...

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