Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice
back into his perfect world. He returns to Hilda on the farm in his perfect world. He is
happier dead in his personal heaven than alive in the real world. John felt out of place
in the modern world, especially without his wife, and he isolated himself within his own
mind. He created his own mental reality rather than deal with the pain of the real world.
Retreating to that created reality was seen by the medical establishment as severe
delusion, worthy of shock treatments to remedy it. The cure worked, in that John
returned to reality. But the cure kills its patient. The shock of his shattered personal
utopia is fatal to John. Thus, medicine triumphs over the condition and fails the patient.
This is a different twist on the theme of the sought-after Utopia seen in the
settlement-history plays. Characters like Frank, in The First Step, and Alec, in North of
Moose Jaw, set out with dreams of building in Canada their own, unattainable
Utopias.70 Where Frank and Alec differ from John is that their actions prove
destructive: Frank’s to himself, and Alec’s to his wife and marriage. John, however,
suffers directly from the actions of the doctors trying to cure him of his isolation from
the world. Also of interest is how the presentation of the great technological dream
differs between Idyll and both Mary Pattison’s Gold is Where you Find It, about the
Western Development Museum in 1955, and David Innes’ Air Ambulance of 1960.
Pattison’s educational drama is of an age where technology is seen as a boon to
humankind. The advancement of technology is inevitable and will lead to a better
world, if at the cost of a few human beings, like Mr. Nelson. Air Ambulance shares this
faith in technology and the heroics of the medical establishment to fight the good fight.
It is a battle between good (represented by medicine, technology, and healing) and evil
70 The First Step, North of Moose Jaw, and Mary Pattison’s Summerfallow play are discussed more in the chapter History and Isolation.