Black Spots and Carelessness - Syphilis and Societal Contagion in William Hogarth's Graphic Satire
This thesis examines the depiction of syphilis within the major modern moral progresses of eighteenth-century British artist William Hogarth. Specifically, I examine the significance of the black spot to indicate a venereal sore that Hogarth was so apt to include throughout his oeuvre. I argue that Hogarth depicts the pox in a holistic way to highlight the social ills plaguing British society. The objects of analysis to articulate my argument include three of Hogarth’s multi-episodic modern moral progresses: A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress, and Marriage À-la-Mode. By utilizing an intertheoretical approach relating to theories and concepts of care and vulnerability, I analyze how Hogarth portrayed London and by extension Britain as a careless society.