Set in Victorian-era London, the rom-com Hysteria audaciously treats the rather tricky subject women's sexual pleasure and vibrators, along with another popular current theme of the "Good Girl" vs. the "Bad Girl."
When single handedly - no pun intended - tackling the common problem of hysteria becomes too much for Dr Dalrymple to handle alone, he hires Dr Mortimer Granville to assist him in alleviating the symptoms of Hysteria, brought on by women revolting against washing one too many tea cups and husbands who are clueless as to what might be involved in pleasing their wives.
True to any rom-com, it’s not long before Mortimer is seemingly smitten with Emily, Dr Dalrymple’s lovely and proper daughter, whose life revolves around music, reading and revealing head massages, and an ensuing life together is planned. It seems that Emily’s sole purpose in life, by her choice and that of her father and society is to remain a proper “Good Girl.” Don’t rock the boat, Emily!
Her sister, Charlotte, on the other hand, passionately and obstinately leads her own agenda, with volcanic outbursts when challenged and threatened to live her life by the stodgy unacceptable rules governing women. Undaunted by her father’s attempts to harness her and a lack of financial support, her ferocious defense of her socialist and feminist ideals lands her in the courts on more than one occasion.
It’s in these almost stereotypical and symbolic portrayals that Emily and Charlotte exemplify the character and personalities of the “Good Girl” and the “Bad Girl”. Although Emily seems happy enough with Mortimer, there is no spark, no flame, not an ounce of passion between them. They are a pretty tableau that could have inspired any Impressionist Painter. Resignation is the word that comes to mind as they accept the lucrative offer of a secure future that matrimony will eventually bring them.
Without giving away the end, suffice to say that Charlotte’s feisty, bold and at times dramatic behavior represents the threatening symptoms of hysteria at that time. The world beware of hysterical women with ideas and the gumption to carry through with them! Intuitive, compassionate and outspoken, Charlotte is the “Bad Girl” men flock to today and that so many women envy and aspire to be but cannot, held back by limiting beliefs, society and fears.
You've come a long, long way, baby, thanks to all the Charlotte's in the world!