A Closer Look at “Choking and Beating Patients” by Nellie Bly

Considering the actual story behind, “Choking and Beating Patients” by Nellie Bly, the lede could be much more of a “hook” to the reader.  Nellie was undercover in an extremely hostile environment yet the lede calmly discusses the sickness of a woman in the asylum.  There are several lines throughout the article that could have made a more efficient lede.  One, for example, is:

She grew more hysterical every moment until they pounced upon her and slapped her face and knocked her head in a lively fashion.  They made the poor creature cry the more, and so they choked her.  Yes, they actually choked her…

This would be a much more dramatic lede than discussing the serious, yet slightly mundane cold of Miss Tillie Mayard.

The quotes throughout the article are extremely useful, as well as credible.  The horrid nurses are given away time and time again through their own words.  For example, when Miss Tillie Mayard faints because of her sickness one nurse states:

Let her fall on the floor and it will teach her a lesson.

What could have made the many statements of the nurses a bit more credible would be adding their names to their quotes, if that was possible.  Other quotes by the unfortunate women in the asylum were also ver useful to the article and more credible because their names were attached.  For example, when poor Urena Little Page cried out:

For God sake, ladies don’t let them beat me.

The quotes were, by far, the strongest additions to this article.

Nellie Bly is successful in this article because of her strong descriptions of the asylum that truly illustrate for the reader the hash treatment and conditions of the patients.  For example, when Bly describes the beating of Urena Little-Page she states:

she caught the woman by her gray hair and dragged her shrieking and pleading from the room.  She was taken to the closet, and her cries grew lower and lower, and they ceased.

Instead of stating simply the facts, Bly allows the reader to feel as if they are there in the room, experiencing these traumatic moments.  While this is a strength of Bly’s writing, it is also important to note that she has become very attached to these patients while she was undercover.  It is fair to say that she becomes extremely biased as she goes from a concerned onlooker to an actual patient herself.

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