Society Reacts to Madness
Representation of Insanity in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway
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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