female madness in gothic literature
edn. 870),  Shakespeare, W. The Vintage Classics (pg. The unreliable narrator suffers from madness … Vintage Classics (pg. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. 11),  Carter, A. If we can accept the idea that Jane was falsely accused of being mad, perhaps, we can also consider Bertha’s point of view. OUP Oxford (pg. Classics,  Carter, A (1995) The Bloody Chamber and Other 53),  Chaplin, S. York Notes Companions Gothic Literature 105),  Carter, A (1995) The Bloody The Gothic tradition originated in response to a period of rapid and far-reaching societal, cultural, and theological change in eighteenth-century Europe. 1st edn. This makes Cathy’s breaking of gender roles essential to the story. ( Log Out / He will be teaching literature classes at the Osher Program at the University of Richmond in the beginning of 2017. of William Shakespeare, UK – 1st edn. Wordsworth Classics (pg. The word implies the unprovoked nature of their sex, and the promiscuity and immorality of Eve, which appears fitting as she has just eaten from the tree. From the Tudors to Tom Hardy's Tess, or from the Wars of the Roses to Wuthering Heights, feel free to browse through my musings to pick up extra ideas and points for discussion! A Monster in the House: Gothic and Victorian Representations of Female Madness explores female madness and mental illness as perceived by Gothic and Victorian society over the span of three literary works: The Fall of the House of Usher (1839); Jane Eyre (1847), and The Yellow Wallpaper (1892). It can be argued that this story supports the view that Poe was sympathetic to the cause of lifting the artistic limitations imposed by society on women. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. being a or the female malady, madness took many forms, some of which were strongly linked to women and to femininity, others far less so.2 Indeed, as we shall see, some were linked to men and masculinity, and it is the complex interrelation of gender and madness, not just of women and madness in isolation, that needs to be examined. However, many modern readers understand them as demonstrating that women, in that era, were just beginning their struggle for the freedom of artistic and intellectual expression. However, readers are only told that Bertha is mad by Mr. Rochester and, perhaps, we are not entirely convinced that he is a reliable narrator. Just as frequent, however, is the theme of insanity — of hallucinations, anxiety, and complete mental breakdown — particularly in … 863),  Bronte, E (1847) Wuthering He is the founder and chief editor of the literary blog, www.LitChatte.com. 10 Women Who Invented Gothic Literature | All About History Wordsworth editions (pg. 206),  Chaplin, S. York This attacks their virginal qualities, as now women are not the innocent or victimized figures, but those who are in control, disrupting traditional gender stereotypes. The interpretations of the theories of Structuralism and Psychoanalytic criticism in review of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James reveals that it fits the definition of Gothic fiction, is a ghost story, and is meant to frighten the audience. Lady Macbeth’s madness releases her and allows her true nature to appear, if we are to believe that she truly feels guilty. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. Just as frequent, however, is the theme of insanity — of hallucinations, anxiety, and complete mental breakdown — particularly in Gothic texts… For the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, VA, he serves as a Board Member, gives special museum tours, and writes a monthly column for their website: thepoeblog.org. Two works that portray negative presentations of women in a Gothic setting are ‘The Bloody Chamber’ by Angela Carter and ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen. 84),  Walpole, H. The Castle of In discovering her sexuality, the narrator ponders her own “potentiality for corruption,” and although before she was innocent and virginal, her sexual awakening has led to her own corruption. This gender reconfiguration implies that that there is hope for womankind. In her mind, the patterns of the wallpaper and the woman she sees soothe her, and free her from the feeling of confinement. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. The Victorian era was arguably the most productive time for the Gothic genre. Longman (pg. Madness (insanity) is a central theme in Gothic literature, although certainly this is not a Gothic invention. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. As the story develops, Rochester is willing to break through socio-economic and caste restrictions and marry Jane. We'll look at examples of madness in the novel and analyze how they are treated in Stoker's work. In these tales, unlike others, female sexuality is also used to empower women, and allows them to dominate men as seen in ‘The Erl King’ and ‘The Lady of the House of Love.’ This provides hope for women in Gothic literature that they will not need to conform to two distinct ideas when exploring their sexuality, and that their discovery of their sexuality can empower them. The Bloody Chamber Although the references to the Madonna-Whore complex may not be as explicit in these two texts, the traits above are heavily associated with the Gothic feminine and allow for greater exploration of the genre. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (1990) Another retelling of sorts, this one from the point of view of a … Wordsworth Classics,  Bronte, E (1847) Wuthering She calls upon the gods to “unsex” her, and fill her breasts with “gall.” Lady Macbeth wishes for the destruction of her femininity, as this will allow her to transform into a strong murderess. It is easy to see the novel as the original gothic tale, as control of women by men is a recurring theme in many gothic works, copied from Walpole’s model. In the Gothic, characters are subject to an onslaught of sensational and macabre events, and Gothic writers seem to delight in their descriptions of the mind's breaking point. 229),  Carter, A (1995) The Bloody 83),  Bronte, E. Wuthering The Bloody Chamber Within the opening lines of the novel, Matilda is described as a “most beautiful virgin.” As this is the first detail provided about the character, this implies the economic importance and value of the virginity of the female, citing it as the most important feature of her character. When reading and reviewing Gothic texts, the prevalence of ghosts, mysterious apparitions, and unexplainable sounds and events is apparent. This sexual ownership is further explored through the use of mirrors, in which “her image as a sexual object is given back to her” by the Marquis, who has the power to control and show her what she is. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. Milton wrote a petition in favour of divorce after Mary’s departure, perhaps explaining why Milton is highly critical of Eve’s gender.. She is denied the right to read a book by her teenage cousin. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. 40),  Carter, A. Wordsworth Classics,  Milton, J (1667) Paradise Lost, Longman (pg. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Wordsworth Classics (pg. editions (pg. This is some serious Gothic girl power. In her madness, Cathy’s eyes are described to be “flashing,” and the “muscles” in her neck and arms stand out “preternaturally.” Her hair also flies over her shoulders. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New When Jane, also questions her Aunt for always siding with her son and for not caring about her, she is locked upstairs in the Red Room.  Within this stereotype is the Madonna-Whore complex. Penguin Classics This allows the novel to be compared to Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber,’ as women within these stories are empowered, arguably for longer than those within Otranto. Complete Works of William Shakespeare, UK – 1st edn. The Bloody Chamber Longman (pg. Eve tempts Adam “wantonly,” and although both are driven by lust, there is greater emphasis and negativity placed on her participation of the act. Penguin In ‘The Snow Child,’ the title character explores the Madonna-Whore dichotomy in a similar fashion to ‘The Bloody Chamber.’ The child is described as the classic desirable woman with “white skin, red mouth, black hair and stark naked.” She already appears innocent and pure due to her white skin. She is owned by the Marquis, implying that the men, who awaken female sexuality, in this instance, control it. UK – 1st edn. Cathy does not consider gender expectations throughout her childhood, and does not fulfil her desires in the conventional way, until she admits that she is prepared to marry Edgar, as he is “handsome and pleasant to be with.” It is this pacifying of Cathy by the Linton’s that affects the love of Cathy and Heathcliff, as she shape shifts in order to please her new husband… and to inherit a fortune. Lady Macbeth rejects the traditional maternal role of the female, and Cathy’s animalistic and wild behaviour as a girl point to her personal manipulation of gender norms. These unresolvable mysteries become even clearer after Rochester explains how Bertha defied his expectations and seemed so different from him after their marriage. Murray Ellison received a Master’s in Education at Temple University (1973), a Master’s of Arts in English Literature at VCU (2015), and a Doctorate in Education at Virginia Tech in 1987. 104),  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes Companions Gothic Literature 119),  Bronte, E. Wuthering ; “Gerald’s Game,” an adaptation of a Stephen King novel by the same title, can be analyzed from the Female Gothic lens, suggesting that the gothic literature mechanisms can also be applied to contemporary tales of female strength and The most recently published work studied, ‘The Bloody Chamber, too explores these ideas, but in several stories notes that sexuality can empower females, and attack the patriarchal society in which they are trapped. Sounds scary. Their relationship is not a romantic one, as romantic relationships within the novel have been incestuous and corrupting, but one of companionship, insinuating that Isabella will rule Otranto as Theodore’s equal, and not his subservient wife. OUP Oxford (pg. It was widely assumed that her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelly, wrote the novel. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. Although this may not paint Lady Macbeth as a Madonna figure, it emphasises her status as a female, and the male need to dominate and protect their female counterparts. It is also implied that she has great power, and this, as well as her beauty, may be what attracts young males to her. 197),  Milton, J. Paradise Lost, UK – 1st edn. Works written in this tradition are inherently linked to the social context in which they were created, and a great deal of critical commentary focuses on the representation of societal and cultural fear in the face of the dissolution of tradition, gender roles, oppression, and race in Gothic literature. It is this plot strand that makes the women of the story, Isabella, Matilda and Hippolita, important, as they have, and have had, the means to bear children. When looking at Carter’s collection of stories, ‘The Bloody Chamber,’ critic Susan Chaplin notes that “the female sexuality is simultaneously vulnerable and dangerous.” This statement succinctly encapsulates the ideas put forward by Freud, and demonstrates that within Carter’s work, female characters are virginal, but also that their sexuality, and discovery of it, is dangerous. Heathcliff returns after several years, which causes Cathy to fall into a fit of hysteria, ending in her death. Jane is first hired by Rochester as a governess to instruct his “charge.” During Jane’s employment at Thornfield, a mysterious woman, living in the attic, roams the house at night to look in on, and frighten Jane, and later to try to set Mr. Rochester’s room on fire and kill him. This independence foreshadows Isabella’s future role as Princess of Otranto, and provides hope for gender equality. The term “preternaturally” tells the reader that her current state is beyond natural, and abnormal, making this madness also a form of shape shifting, as Cathy has totally transformed. The theme of virginity runs through the texts, showing how important the ‘Madonna’ aspect of the complex was in many different historical eras. As soon as Bertha sees her husband, she tries to attack him violently. Although both forms of madness serve the story well, and make for dramatic reading, it provides another example as to how women in Gothic literature are overlooked, and do not possess the mental strength of their male counterparts. A re-assessment of the Gothic in relation to the female, the 'feminine', feminism and post-feminismThis collection of newly commissioned essays brings together major scholars in the field of Gothic studies in order to re-think the topic of 'Women and the Gothic'. Matilda is the unfortunate victim of her father’s usurpation of Otranto, placing Matilda back into the story as the archetypal female victim of patriarchal power. 17),  Walpole, H. The Castle of Longman (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. FEMALE MONSTROSITY AND MADNESS IN SELMA LAGERLÖF’S “THE GHOST HAND” Sofia Wijkmark In the 1870s and 80s Swedish literature, like the rest of Scandinavian literature, was dominated by critical realism, a tendency inspired by the lectures of the influential Danish critic The gothic tale of “The Yellow Wallpaper” has become just that, although it took nearly a century to find a truly understanding audience. Penguin Every text studied provides details about females breaking free of the patriarchal society they inhabit. Within ‘Paradise Lost,’ Eve morphs from Madonna to whore through the eating of the fruit from the tree of good and evil, her transformation implied by the lustful sex that she shares with Adam afterward. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. Longman (pg. Lady Macbeth and Cathy appear to destroy femininity, which is a prevalent idea within Gothic literature, as female characters often break gender conventions, creating monstrous personas. Vintage Classics (pg. 133),  Walpole, H (1764) The Castle of Although she informs her Aunt that she has forgiven her, Mrs. Reed dies in anger, saying she has never forgiven Jane for her impertinence. In the novel, Viktor Frankenstein creates a monster in his laboratory but has no control over the terror it unleashes in the surrounding villages. 211),  Milton, J. Paradise Lost, UK – 1st edn. 880),  Shakespeare, W. The Complete Works 86),  Bronte, E. Wuthering It is her betrayal of God that causes Eve to digress from a chaste figure to a dangerously promiscuous woman who is able to manipulate men using her sexuality, and her “contagious fire.” This implies that she has infected Adam with her sin, and demonstrates the intense lust and passion they feel. 228),  Carter, A.  Edgar claims that it is Heathcliff’s presence, comparing him to “poison.” Her hysteria stems from her desperation to be with Heathcliff, and the difficulty of her current situation, as she claims that she “will” not rest until she is with Heathcliff. As Madeline’s madness gets more and more out of control, Roderick attempts to bury his sister while she is still alive, believing this is necessary to save her soul. This change in gender roles is even more significant considering this story is authored by a female, who wished to challenge gender roles and attitudes to female sexuality. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. The woman, not having any other creative task to occupy her mind, identifies with the crawling woman. Wordsworth editions (pg. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Her sexuality is implied to be a woman living and moving about in patterns of dead. 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