Society Reacts to Madness

Representation of Insanity in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway

  • Radhika Gupta King’s College London
Keywords: Body and asylum, doubles, madness, social context, subaltern identity


On one hand, Brontë’s Victorian Realist text, Jane Eyre, is miles apart from Woolf’s quintessential Modernist text, Mrs Dalloway. While, on the other hand, both texts are connected through a similar anxiety to portray madness: a dangerous antithesis to society itself. This paper attempts an analysis of both texts’ supposed mad characters, Bertha and Septimus, respectively, who posit as alter egos to the eponymous protagonists. Often declared as a radical other, or controlled through physical impositions, or perceived as a threatening force, madness has constantly been a victimised and ostracised entity in society. However, by bringing these two distinct texts in a conversation, this paper attempts to capture the crucial changes in the attitude towards madness as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.



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Author Biography

Radhika Gupta, King’s College London

Radhika Gupta is a student of English Literature, pursuing her Master’s in Modern Literature and Culture from King’s College London. She completed her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Hindu College, University of Delhi. Her research interests include Feminist Studies, Postcolonial Writings, and Nineteenth-Century English Fiction. Her postgraduate thesis involves the study of Jane Austen’s novels from the perspective of a modern lens.


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How to Cite
Gupta, R. “Society Reacts to Madness”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 10, no. 2, July 2023, pp. 75-95,
Research Papers