I just finished reading Dickens’ Pickwick Papers for the first time. While I found it an enjoyable read, I did notice that it had countless episodes of women fainting. This was a worse case than usual, but in fact most 19th century novels feature female characters who swoon all the time. They faint when anything scary, shocking or surprising happens. They faint at moments of emotional intensity. They faint whenever they try any hard physical work.
What’s up with this? I find it difficult to believe that women in England 150 years ago were constantly collapsing in public. After all, physically and genetically they were no different from modern women who can make it through a typical day without spontaneously losing consciousness.