AP English Literature and Composition
DATE @ “d MMMM yyyy” 5 September 2017
Lytton Strachey/Florence Nightingale Essay
The public eye portrays Florence Nightingale as a “self-sacrificing and saintly” woman. They exaggerate her image and publicity by sightlessly worshiping her without distinguishing her true values and worth. Lytton Strachey dismisses this misconception by researching the root of her success as the founder of nursing. The elongated sentences in the first paragraph reflect the extent of Nightingale’s popularity among the common people. The following sentence, (“But the truth is different.”) is abrupt which signifies that the common perception of Nightingale is false and alludes to a shift in focus. Although the public’s opinion of her is not incorrect, Strachey implies that there is way more to Florence Nightingale than meets the eye. Strachey suggests that Nightingale did not care for fame and in turn did not perform her work utilizing that as motivation. Strachey compares Nightingale to a “demon” in contrast to “the popular conception” the people have of Nightingale. This demonstrates how entirely different Strachey viewed this “delicate maiden” compared to everyone else.
In the second paragraph, Strachey starts to describe Nightingale’s life. He poses many rhetorical questions in order to contrast her natural tendencies to her sister’s. He labels her motives to help and care for people as “morbid” and “queer” in disparity to her sister’s as she was content “tearing up her dolls to pieces” instead of “sewing them back up again.” Strachey juxtaposes Nightingale with her sister to demonstrate This all ties back to when Strachey likened Nightingale to a demon. He defines her intentions as unnatural, almost demon-like, as she is fascinated by pain and distress. Strachey even bestows upon her a prophetic quality to see her future at a hospital. Posing these questions to us even as he has Nightingale pose them to herself, Strachey ends this section with Nightingale writing “The agitations of her soul” into her diary. The selection of such words suggests that even Florence doubts her motives and her obsession with helping those in pain.
Sophia Renteria Mr