female madness in gothic literature
Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New edn. However, she rebels against him, locks the door, and refuses to leave the room. When she questions him about this denial, he punishes her by throwing the hard bound book at her and bloodied her head. We'll look at examples of madness in the novel and analyze how they are treated in Stoker's work. Words, words, words… well said Hamlet! OUP Oxford (pg. 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. In ‘Macbeth, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘The Castle of Otranto’ the Madonna-Whore dichotomy is not a huge theme. Catherine from Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights,’ too has influence over the male figures around her, beginning with Heathcliff. 29),  Bronte, E. Wuthering Heights, UK – Reprint edn. 24),  Walpole, H. The Castle of 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. Throughout ‘The Bloody Chamber,’ a man, wishing to defile the innocence of a young woman, like in the title story and ‘The Snow Child’, triggers the exploration of female sexuality. In these incidences, the men exert power over their female counterparts, and the discovery of their sexuality leads to greater corruption. ; 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. He is the founder and chief editor of the literary blog, www.LitChatte.com. The brother is certain that restraining his sister in her best interest .The brother, who is afraid of sunlight and nature, won’t go outside the house and won’t allow his sister to go out or have any meaningful interaction or dialogue with the unnamed narrator, a friend who visits the house. Both female characters exhibit the Gothic trope of using men for their own ends, which is closely linked to the Gothic females’ ability to break gender rules and social convention. Even Eve, before sinning, notes that herself and Adam will “best fulfill” their work set by God if they separate. After Jane matures to a young woman, she is summoned by Aunt Reed to her deathbed. Although the Madonna-Whore complex is not a prevalent idea within Macbeth, one can see glimpses of love between the two protagonists, and Macbeth’s keenness to protect his wife. 25),  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes Companions Gothic Literature In Angela Carter’s more contemporary work, ‘The Bloody Chamber,’ female sexuality empowers women, although it results in the loss of their ‘Madonna like’ qualities. Her rejection of her own gender and femininity is what gives her the power that she craves, although she ultimately needs Macbeth to actively fulfill her desires. One could argue that the shared corruption of women is transmitted through sex, and is the fault of Eve. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. 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 228),  Middleton, C. 2016. Again, this contrasts the unfortunate fate of Matilda, who fulfils the role of the victim within the novel. 119),  Carter, A. 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. 92),  Bronte, E. Wuthering We all love to read such stories. 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'. Although not intended to be a Gothic tale, aspects of the Gothic feminine are identifiable in Milton’s work. Milton notes that women are supposed to “studie household good,” communicating his own views about gender roles. 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. 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. No doubt, he considers his wife as incurable at that point. Lady Macbeth’s madness releases her and allows her true nature to appear, if we are to believe that she truly feels guilty. Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New edn. Her hair is wild and her manner carnally suggestive; her dress is a “white gown.” She is not constrained by her gender, unlike her daughter, whose gender is defined by her innocence and loss of virginity. However, this exchange is short lived, with Matilda’s gifting of a “complete suit” of armour to Theodore. 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. The sister’s name strongly suggests to readers that she is mad about something. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. The brother paints and plays music to his pleasure but the sister is not permitted to have the same privileges of self-expression. Longman (pg. It was apparent at book club that night a couple years ago and is the most striking part about reading novels that are traditionally assigned to the genre of Women and Madness in literature. 101),  Milton, J (1667) Paradise Lost, UK – 1st edn. OUP Oxford (pg. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New By examining issues of Spiritualism, Freudian theory, and women’s medicine in . This offers a different interpretation of the complex, and a more positive attitude to the exploration of female sexuality, rather than the girls’ condemnation as a sexually promiscuous figure. These ideas are thoroughly supported and explored in Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s book, The Madwoman … Vintage Classics (pg. The Female Gothic. The three plays under consideration are: Long Day’s Journey Into Night, written in 1941 by Eugene O’Neill; Fefu and Her Friends Although she has this power, the protagonist is overcome by the Marquis, and is corrupted by the discovery of her sexuality, causing her to embody fully the Madonna-Whore complex. Women in Gothic literature appear to be struggling to break free of patriarchal oppression, and in the context of the Madonna-Whore complex, succeed in this by using their sexuality as a dangerous tool against men, as seen in ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘The Bloody Chamber.’ Their sexuality, and innocence, can also make them slaves to oppressive male figures, who see their own desires in them, and wish to defile them. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. Poe’s unnamed narrator graphically describes her terrifying screams and the rumblings of the House of Usher. It was first published under the real author’s name in 1823. After her murderous intent, one wonders why Mrs Macbeth would need any protecting, but perhaps after his emasculation by his own wife, Macbeth’s protection of her is an attempt to restore his own masculinity. Eve, in ‘Paradise Lost’ and the Bible, is a controversial figure, as she is commonly blamed for bringing sin into the world. As soon as Bertha sees her husband, she tries to attack him violently. Unable to have a fulfilling life outside the house like her husband, she instead confines herself to one room and becomes obsessed with its patterned wallpaper, convinced that there are women trapped inside that she must free. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Lady Macbeth longs for Macbeth to return so that she can “pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valor of my tongue.” Although Lady Macbeth devises the plan to kill Duncan, she needs Macbeth to carry out the deed, conforming to gender conventions as mentioned above. 138),  Carter, A. She rejects this suggestion because it goes against her moral compass (see first Litchatte, Jane Eyre discussion) and because she is concerned that she might end up as another victim in Rochester’s attic. ( Log Out / Manfred’s failure to realise that his own daughter stood before him demonstrates his moral blindness, and his objectification of women. The Bloody Chamber Both women are controlled by men, and are used to entertain their sexual fantasies. In 1818, she published her first book anonymously because she believed that society would not accept the idea that women could be important authors. OUP Oxford (pg.  “She is afraid of nothing,” and her sexuality is what allows her to escape. Wordsworth editions (pg. The contemporary resurgence of the Female Gothic is part of this new romanticism. Wordsworth Classics (pg. The uncle’s wish is never granted because the Aunt never loves or accepts her niece as part of her family. Vintage Classics (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. UK – 1st edn. Isabella too comes into this category, as her “soul is pure as virtue itself.” Manfred is aware that his “fate depends on having sons,” and proceeds to have sex with Isabella on the “night” of his own sons death. 880),  Shakespeare, W. The Complete Works 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. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. This is another recurring theme of the genre, particularly in Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber.’ Matilda appears as the heroic knight when freeing Theodore from the “black tower,” displaying him as the victim, who was traditionally female. ( Log Out / Manfred is aware of the incestuous nature of this union, but is so corrupted by desire that he is willing to break divine law, declaring, “Heaven nor hell shall impede my designs.” It is the purity and chastity of Isabella that increases his attraction towards her. – 1st edn. The Female Gothic: An Introduction When Ellen Moers wrote of the "Female Gothic" in Literary Women in 1977, she coined a new term and a laid the foundation for a new way of thinking about women and the Gothic genre. Although Carter claimed that the ‘femininity’ depicted in her stories was created “by means outside my control,” changing gender roles are clearly tackled with the contemplation as to whether a bird could “sing only the song it knows or can it learn a new song?” The vampire in the novella contemplates her own societal restraints and proceeds to break them. He prescribes a treatment of complete rest for her.  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes Companions Gothic Literature Wordsworth Classics (pg. Penguin Classics It was Lady Macbeth’s plan to kill Duncan, but when deciding to murder Banquo, Macbeth protects his “dearest chuck,” which is a term of endearment. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Longman (pg. The Aunt banishes Jane from her home, disowns her, and sends her to an orphan school for girls (see earlier Litchatte.com discussion). He Edited the 2017 Poetry Book, Mystic Verses, by Shambhushivananda. As Madeline escapes from her premature burial, she kills her brother in an act of defiant anger and revenge. Wordsworth Classics,  Milton, J (1667) Paradise Lost, 107),  Carter, A. 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. In one interpretation of Frankenstein, the monster was the author’s representation of how society was threatened by the idea of a successful women writer. Madwomen in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature. Longman (pg. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Macbeth wishes to protect her from his violent intent, alluding to the fact that, traditionally women were not involved in such unlawful acts. He teaches English at Richard Bland College of William & Mary and literature appreciation classes in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Richmond. Longman (pg. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. It is also implied that she has great power, and this, as well as her beauty, may be what attracts young males to her. Although Adam too incited Eve to have sex with him, it is Eve who has lost her purity, and ‘Madonna like’ qualities. Instead, she and her children give Jane steady doses of cruelty and neglect. – 1st edn. 24),  Walpole, H. The Castle of However both texts exhibit classic traits of the feminine Gothic, particularly the breaking of gender conventions and manipulation of men. Viewing these works from a 21st century perspective allows for greater assessment of the Freudian complex, as women are no longer expected to conform to these distinct ideas, which can be seen in Carter’s contemporary depiction of the power of female sexuality within her stories. 211),  Milton, J. Paradise Lost, UK – 1st edn. OUP Oxford (pg. 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. The theme of virginity runs through the texts, showing how important the ‘Madonna’ aspect of the complex was in many different historical eras. Classics (pg. Bertha had just as much reason to be angry and vindictive toward her husband as Jane had toward Aunt Reed. The Count wishes to defile her, much like the Marquis in ‘The Bloody Chamber.’ The Count explores his sexual fantasies by having sex with her dead corpse, further emphasizing that her Madonna-Whore image was conjured purely for the desire of the Count, and that she is overcome by his own sexual desires. 862),  Shakespeare, W. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Gothic literature has a wide history in which you can find a lot of novels having ghosts, headless spirits and ghouls in them that may disturb the major characters. This is explored further in the last line of the novel, in which, after bonding over the loss of Matilda, Isabella and Theodore marry. OUP Oxford (pg. The Bloody Chamber In Jane Eyre, the narrator as a ten-year-old orphan girl is taken in, but not loved by the Reed family. Companions Gothic Literature – 1st edn. 17),  Walpole, H. The Castle of 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. Carter’s work emerged in an age of second wave feminism “in the 1970’s, in which women disagreed over the direction and desired outcomes of the feminist movement.” Within Carter’s stories, gender stereotypes are also not fixed for some of the female protagonists. Wordsworth Classics (pg. 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. He is the founder and Chief Editor of Litchatte.com, an Editor for the International Correctional Education Journal, and the Chief Editor for the MennoNet of the First Mennonite Church of Richmond, VA. The “beautiful queen of the vampires” is initially depicted as sitting in an “antique bridal gown,” the whiteness of it implying her purity and chastity. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Longman (pg. She, instead, is convinced that she needs to write to relieve her anxieties. Before her temptation in book nine, Eve is subservient to Adam and noted for her captivating beauty. 197),  Milton, J. Paradise Lost, UK – 1st edn. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. – 1st edn. 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. (pg. “We will talk about how the stories in Behind the Yellow Wallpaper respond to or push back against (or reinforce) the tropes of female madness in literature.” The discussion will be held the afternoon of July 19th from 2 to 4pm at the Jefferson Market Library. It’s so interesting to think about how much of our experiences as women is shared. editions (pg. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. The gothic tale of “The Yellow Wallpaper” has become just that, although it took nearly a century to find a truly understanding audience. 41),  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes 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. Even as a child, Nelly recounts that he “would do her bidding in anything.” Cathy exercises great power over Heathcliff, even justifying her marriage to Edgar, by arguing that she plans to “aid Heathcliff to rise.” Both Lady Macbeth and Cathy use men to achieve their own goals, partly because they are restricted by their gender. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. and Other Stories, UK – New 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. Notes Companions Gothic Literature – 1st edn. Rest in peace Matilda.  Vanity at its finest. Stories, UK – New edn. OUP Oxford (pg. 228),  Carter, A. 84),  Walpole, H. The Castle of 119),  Bronte, E. Wuthering It is noted that female characters in Gothic novels and plays often fall into one of two categories: innocent victims, subservient to the strong and powerful male characters, or the shameless and dangerous predator. Her chastity allows her to be seen as a Madonna like figure, but the action she takes to protect herself quickly transforms her, as she embraces her sexuality. xiv),  Bronte, E. Wuthering ( Log Out / The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New 48),  Walpole, H (1764) The Castle of The madness of both characters could be an insinuation of the weakness of women, as they are not able to cope with guilt, or their natural bodily functions. ... which she has taken in secret each day for years. Although in the case of Matilda, they may not survive it, manipulation of gender norms is a recurring theme throughout the genre, and seems more prevalent than the outdated and distinct Madonna-Whore complex. Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto,’ is widely regarded as the first gothic novel with ideas such as, political power struggles, the supernatural and its setting in a haunted castle, becoming common staples within the gothic genre. It was widely assumed that her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelly, wrote the novel. Eve explores, and embodies, the Madonna-Whore disunion. of William Shakespeare, UK – 1st edn. The woman, not having any other creative task to occupy her mind, identifies with the crawling woman. UK – 1st edn. 59), Chaplin, S (2011) York This is why Jane believes she is insane, because women often feared that their lose of control could lead to being accused of madness.  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 Eve is currently sinless, this enhances her status as pure. ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Wuthering Heights,’ also exhibit typical qualities of the feminine Gothic, and both female protagonists represent the fear and fantasy of their male dominated societies. The theme of inheritance runs through ‘The Castle of Otranto,’ much like ‘Macbeth,’ as Manfred’s pursuing of Isabella focuses on sexual desire, but also the desire for a male heir after the murder of his son Conrad. The gift of the ruby necklace marks the narrator for death, as it foreshadows her beheading and acts as a mark of “sexual ownership.” I’m sure you will never look at jewellery in the same way again. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New 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. Lady Macbeth also rejects female maternal instincts, by stating that she would happily “dashed the brains out” of a baby with no remorse. This makes Cathy’s breaking of gender roles essential to the story. edn. After Eve and Adam eat the fruit, they engage in sex, the difference being that this sex is driven by carnal lust and desire, which Milton attributes to Eve. Wordsworth editions (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. and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” readers and scholars alike can see the ways in which Victorians attempted to understand madness by 45),  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes Companions Gothic Literature Vintage Classics (pg. The child escapes the wolf by seducing it, stripping off her clothes and throwing them onto the fire. Silence, like madness, runs rampant in our family. Vintage Classics (pg. Longman (pg. 212),  Chaplin, S (2011) York Notes Companions Gothic Literature The Bloody Chamber edn. In this event, Isabella “took it upon herself” to care for Matilda. A Classic Book Keeps Speaking to Us Long After It Is Written. 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. UK – 1st edn. Longman (pg. As a doctor, he thinks he is prescribing the most proper treatment for her. The truth behind the influence of Gothic literature can be found in two of its most common themes: the supernatural and madness. When reading and reviewing Gothic texts, the prevalence of ghosts, mysterious apparitions, and unexplainable sounds and events is apparent. of William Shakespeare, UK – 1st edn. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. By luring the goblin to bed, she is able to “wind” his hair into ropes, and “strangle him with them.” In this story, female sexuality is a force that should be feared, and is used, ultimately, to murder the goblin. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. Penguin Classics (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. Longman (pg. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Vintage Classics (pg. Chamber and Other Stories, UK – New edn. and Other Stories, UK – New edn. Madness is seen as insightful, a plumbing of the depth of emotional intensity. The protagonist clearly embodies male fear and trepidation towards the growing powers of female sexuality. Isabella flees in terror, and who can blame her, but finds herself incarcerated by the patriarchal society of the novel, which is a common theme within the gothic genre. He is the founder and coordinator of the Classic Book Club in Richmond. Notable among these new Female Gothic writers are Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood. 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. Wordsworth Classics (pg. Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Within book nine of ‘Paradise Lost,’ Eve is seen as a pure female, but also a corrupted individual after Satan tempts her. After she had started going mad, he explains that he confined her to an attic room and hired a servant, Grace Poole, to be her caretaker. Although she appears in this way, she is “the child of desire,” and embodies the carnal lust of the Count. 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. The aunt justifies locking Jane up because she believes she is mad. In freeing him she gives him back his masculinity, allowing traditional gender roles to be restored. Both Lady Macbeth and Catherine Earnshaw use their male counterparts for their own gain, break social conventions like the women at Otranto, enter into madness and suppress their own desires, as they are confined by their situation and gender. In Freud’s mind, perhaps Cathy’s madness stems from her pregnancy. The Bloody Chamber edn. 55),  Bronte, E. Wuthering The gothic fiction sub-genre forms the very root of the modern-day horror genre, and it is worth nothing that while The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764) is considered to be the first such gothic novel, it was two female writers who perhaps gave the genre direction and popularity. The iconic madness of Lady Macbeth does not allow this kind of freedom, but certainly allows for the emergence of truth, as it explores her guilt complex. 107), http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/270986/the-representation-of-women-in-angela-carter-s-the-magic-toyshop,  Carter, A (1995) The Bloody Through this ritual she is defiled and discovers her own capacity for evil, citing the moment in which she transforms from Madonna to whore. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (1990) Another retelling of sorts, this one from the point of view of a … Heights, UK – Reprint edn. Although his works were never intended to be Gothic, many critics have identified Gothic tropes in his plays, such as ‘Macbeth.’ In this respect Lady Macbeth is viewed as a proto Gothic figure. He then takes the clergymAN, wedding witnesses, and Jane up to the attic to see the madwoman. Madness (insanity) is a central theme in Gothic literature, although certainly this is not a Gothic invention. Wordsworth editions (pg. The Bloody Chamber 88),  Chaplin, S (2011) York The Victorian era was arguably the most productive time for the Gothic genre. 40),  Carter, A. Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature has often used themes of women held back or locked up in rooms and attics while attempting to make valiant stands and statements in support of their rights to artistic and intellectual expression, and social equality. 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. The Bloody Chamber edn. Otranto, UK – 3 edition. 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. Heights, UK – Reprint edn.
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