Sarah Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
Mrs Gamp

Portrayal of nurses in literature

Nurse Gamp is portrayed in Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit as a scruffy, fat and uncaring woman with a red nose who smells of alcohol ([1843–1844] 2004: 564-586).

Your task

Think of a few different nurses that have appeared in literature, especially those that come from or reflect your local context.

How were those nurses described? Are the descriptions different when looking at literature written more recently, compared to literature written decades or centuries ago?

Do you think the portrayals show nursing in a positive or a negative light? Has it changed over time?

Share your thoughts and examples in the comments section.


Dickens, C. ([1843–1844] 2000) Martin Chuzzlewit. ElecBook, London. available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [22 December 2017]

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Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges

Coventry University