Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Amanda  Cronin
Women as Healers in the Novels of Chris Bohjalian The History of Midwifery in America
Chris  Bohjalian
Link to Senior Art Thesis
Healers of the Earth, healers of the soul, and healers of the heart are all exemplified through the graceful antics of women in Chris Bohjalian’s novels. In Water Witches, a mystical dowser who is entangled in a world of greed tries to heal the Earth of “noxious” rays. In Bohjalian’s dramatic novel Midwives, a midwife is forced to relinquish her license to heal when she is put on trial for murder, and she must fight for her right to walk free. In The Law of Similars, a young child and a homeopath try to heal the open wounds in a man’s heart after the death of his wife. The combination of the strength in female healing and females who possess mystical qualities characterize each of these influential women.

From the seventeenth century to the twentieth century, authority figures continuously criticized and challenged the beliefs and traditions of midwives. In response to the challenges from authorities, the field of midwifery either benefited or suffered. The combination of religious, governmental and male authority, and their alterations to midwife traditions, was almost the end of midwifery. There are however, aspects of childbirth as well as the ideals of female solidarity that withstood the overpowering nature of those harsh authorities. Through criticisms and the challenges came a female community that maintained its traditions through over four hundred years of controversy. Currently, with new developments in medicine each day and the field of midwifery standing strong, there is no doubt that midwifery will survive at least another four centuries.

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