HysteriaWhat would you think of hysteria? The afflictions of the female nervous system that lead to “weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia, and anxiety,” just as Dr. Dalrymple observes from the 19th Century women in London. What might blow your mind in the movie “Hysteria” is the personal struggle of a young dedicated doctor, the invention of the world’s first electrical vibrator, and a deeper thought into women right and liberation.  

HysteriaWhat would you think of hysteria? The afflictions of the female nervous system that lead to “weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia, and anxiety,” just as Dr. Dalrymple observes from the 19th Century women in London. What might blow your mind in the movie “Hysteria” is the personal struggle of a young dedicated doctor, the invention of the world’s first electrical vibrator, and a deeper thought into women right and liberation.  

Expect the unexpected. The social, sexual, and romantic elements in the sumptuous Victorian setting are bound to overwhelm you in this unbridled modern comedy. It all starts in Dr. Dalrymple’s (Jonathan Pryce) clinic when the young doctor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) visits Dalrymple for a job. This might be too familiar for those new graduates like me awaiting an opportunity to prove ourselves. But your idealism might sometimes be against the mainstream society. You might be rejected for numerous times before you settle at a position that is nowhere close to your original expectation, just like Granville who finally lands a job in Dalrymple’s clinic.

It is always easier to find yourself in conformity and gradually achieve success and recognition by the society. Hysteria is a disorder to be treated among wealthy women. Though Granville then suffers from “hand cramp” due to his frequent practices of medicinal massage of the female organs, the physical impairment soon leads him to the inspiration of turning an electric feather-duster into the world’s first electric vibrating massager.

But this is “a story about more than the invention of the vibrator, that’s about the spirit of change,” said producer Tracey Becker. Dr. Dalrymple’s daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) presents a challenge to Granville’s success and her father’s treatment of hysteria. She stirs a change in Granville’s innermost and more, a change in societal view of women right. You will be surprised to see how much we take for granted nowadays has been a struggle for women back in the 19th Century.

Women’s rights to be educated, vote, free from chores, and even being sexually satisfied by their partners or an electrical vibrator do not come easy at all. Charlotte’s actions to speak for lower-class women pose a contrast to Granville’s achievement. Though she is a doctor’s daughter, she sets her personal pursuit of life in the context of social welfare of the very poor.

Granville gradually finds Charlotte inspirational and attractive. As we all might one day realize that our biggest satisfaction in life could come from connections to those who are most in need and those who encourage us to change, or be the change we want to see in the world.

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