The Use of Force

“The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams shows the conflict between a doctor and his patient at one level and doctor and the parents at another level. The conflict between the doctor and the patient is physical. But the conflict between doctor and parents is psychological. This story tells that the use of force for the benevolent purpose is ethical and justifiable.

The narrator is a doctor who visits the house of the Olson family. Their small daughter Mithalda has had a high fever for three days. Since no medicine worked, her parents called the doctor. Being fearful that the girl may be suffering from diphtheria, the doctor asked her parents if she had a sore throat. The parents had not taken a look at her throat because they did not want to hurt her. The doctor asks Mithalda to open her mouth but suddenly the girl attacks his eyes with her nails. The doctor hates the parents when they say that the doctor is a nice man and will not hurt her. Then the doctor decides to use force than to leave her to die. When the doctor is about to look into her throat, her father suddenly releases her. The parents are restless and fearful that the doctor may harm her child.

On next attempt, he grasps the child’s head and tries to get the wooden depressor into her mouth. The girl breaks it with her molars. The child’s mouth starts bleeding. Later he forces the spoon back of her teeth and throat. He finds that she has a sore throat and is suffering from diphtheria.

Generally, force is unjustifiable, but if it is used with good motives in order to save somebody’s life, it becomes a necessity. Here the basic conflict is between the doctor and the parents of the patient. The doctor uses force because of social responsibility while the parents do not want the use of force. Their love towards their child was about to cause the death of their child. The parents concentrate on immediate pain without thinking about the consequences of deadly diseases. So the doctor loves the innocent child but finds her parents contemptible.