Madness In Womens Texts Insanity And Patriarchy English Literature Essay

Feminist review of the hegemony of the male-dominated society has established the figure of the madwoman as a cardinal construct of feminist theory and literature. In such gynocritical theoretical account, the behavior of the madwoman stands as a insurgent reaction against the subjection she faces. This insurgent function of the madwoman has been centripetal to the feminine philosophy. The image of the madwoman parodies the rational incapacity adult females are associated with in the patriarchal society and is established as the instigator of opposition against the subjugation they encounter in that society.

In their The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar address the issue of the word picture of female characters in a universe shaped by and for work forces. They offer an keen position on the functions prescribed to adult females by a male-dominated universe. Each of these functions is finally directed to service of the adult male. Because these functions were basically negative, particularly the function of the madwoman, they imposed restrictions on the adult female ‘s behaviour.

In their work, Gilbert and Gubar highlight the fact that adult females authors were obliged to do their female characters represent the symbol of the madwoman. This phenomenon stemmed from the laterality of the image of the rebellious madwoman perpetuated by male authors on adult females. Hence, the writers urge adult females authors to “ analyze, absorb, and transcend ” the image of the madwoman that has been generated by the patriarchal society ( qtd. in Lagland 93 ) . This image, which is imposed by work forces, impedes the adult female ‘s hunt for self-actualization in the literary canon.

Therefore, the writers exhort adult females authors to “ kill the aesthetic ideal through which they themselves have been “ killed ” into art ” ( Gilbert and Gubar, Madwoman 596 ) . They stress the importance of killing this figure because it is far from being an accurate representation of adult females or adult females authors. Womans authors should seek for a far different and more realistic image for their female characters ; an image that reflects the true representation of adult females.

Gilbert and Gubar suggest that a adult female author should observe her ain position of ego and disown her image within the patriarchal model of muliebrity. That is why they call on female authors to defy the suppression and culturally implemented image of the madwoman, and to put a new signifier of individuality which patriarchate has forced into repression. They argue for overthrowing this patriarchal definition of adult females in favour of representations of adult females as fully-fledged topics.

The sexual analogy indicated in the inquiry posed by Gilbert and Gubar, “ Is the pen a metaphorical phallus? ‘ ( qtd. in Taylor 86 ) had a rich history and efficaciously explains the being of the abundant images of the madwoman in adult females ‘s literature. Since adult females writes lack the “ organ ” that endows them with the power to compose, they confront great wretchedness in bring forthing their literary work. Hence, female authors tend to picture the predicament they encounter in their literary experience through their female characters ‘ lunacy. In this sense, the lunacy that descends upon the female character is a calculated dramatic representation of the crippling force per unit areas imposed on adult females authors and the agony they endure in their literary calling.

Gilbert and Gubar ‘s theoretical account of the “ Anxiety of Authorship ” besides accounts for the frequent images of madwomen in adult females ‘s fiction. In her enterprise for the self-conception necessary to compose successfully, the adult female author must face non merely the anxiousness of influence which she portions with the male author, but besides a disabling anxiousness of writing. Hence, the madwoman in these texts undertakings the consequences of this experience of adult females author ‘s within the overbearing patriarchal society. The female character ‘s lunacy articulates the author ‘s sense of solitariness, apprehension and enduring she encounters in her baneful literary odyssey.

Since it is handed down from the literary male parents of patriarchate, the “ Anxiety of Authorship ” is enfeebling. It causes “ alienation, a perturbation, a misgiving, that spreads like a discoloration through the manner and construction of much literature by adult females ” ( Gilbert and Gubar, Infection 25 ) . Emily Dickinson describes this perturbation as “ infection ” and for her “ infection in the sentence strains ” ( Gilbert and Gubar, Infection 25 ) . As a consequence of this infection, the female figures in adult females ‘s literature suffered from physical and psychological illness unto decease. Hence, the image of the insane adult female can be viewed as psychological disease that reflects this infection.

What is impressive in Gilbert and Gubar ‘s statement is that they interpret the being of the image of the madwoman in adult females writer ‘s fiction as a manner for overthrowing the male-dominated hegemonic society. The writers investigate some ways in which lunacy and silence in adult females ‘s fiction have deconstructed the important patriarchal paradigm. They employ the image of Bertha Mason, which gives Gilbert and Gubar their rubric, to clarify the power of adult females ‘s gender, fury, and retaliation. They besides examine Jane Austen ‘s employment of silence in her novels and how this silence can overthrow the most conventional constructions. Examples of other authors mentioned by the writers include Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte in add-on to other adult females authors.

In this respect, Gilbert and Gubar ‘s history of the being of the madwoman figure authenticates the synthesis of the personal and the political in the feminist philosophy. After demoing how the effects of socialization create psychological unwellness in adult females, they move on to demo how these unwellnesss are depicted in adult females ‘s literature through the lunacy of the female characters. Women authors used to reflect their psychological wretchedness in their huffy female characters and to proclaim a sweeping rejection of the patriarchal canon through them.

The feminist belief that no split can be made between the psychological and the political is one of the major subjects of Charlotte Gilman ‘s “ The Yellow Wallpaper ” and Doris Lessing ‘s “ To Room Nineteen. ” Both narratives stand as a life testimony on the employment of the image of the madwoman as a insurgent figure against the restraints of the andocentric hegemony. The significance of the subject of lunacy in these two narratives is highlighted with specific mention to the theory of the Scots head-shrinker Ronald Laing. Laing ‘s lighting history of lunacy substantiates the statement that the female characters ‘ lunacy enables them to joint, and therefore subvert, the subjugation they face in the patriarchal society.

In The Yellow Wallpaper, insanity is portion of Gilman ‘s larger remark on the atrociousnesss of the patriarchal restraints. In this narrative, Gilman depicts insanity as one of the possible manners of flight from these restraints. Afflicted by crazes and nervous depression, Jane in the narrative is confined. She is out to work and unable to show herself in composing. Her lunacy comes as a kind of reaction to the parturiencies put against her.

In Laing ‘s nomenclature, Jane suffers from “ ontologically insecurity. ” In the Divided Self, Laing defines ontological insecurity as the loss of “ a steadfast sense of one ‘s ain independent individuality ” ( 65 ) . Jane lacks this sense of “ independent individuality ” and experiences a sense of duality between her inner ego and the outer universe. She wants to decide the split between “ being-for-oneself ” and “ being-for-another ” and to promote a more reliable individuality. As Laing implies, there is a strong connexion in the human mind “ between being-for-oneself and being-for-another, ” and if there happens any confusion between the two, perturbation may ensue ( Burston 79 ) . Jane suffers from this “ perturbation. ” She experiences break in the schizophrenic relation with those who are about her every bit good as a split within herself.

As an ontologically threatened individual, Jane besides suffers from what Laing footings as the fright of “ engulfment. ” Laing defines engulfment as the “ utmost hurt of the individual who finds himself under irresistible impulse to take on the features of personalityaˆ¦ foreigner to his ain ” ( Laing, Divided 58 ) . Jane truly feels that society tends to encroach upon her an individuality that is foreign to her. Her personality is framed in conformity with the outlooks of that society, and she wants to untangle herself out of this frame.

Suffering from ontological insecurity and engulfment, Jane acts in a unusual yet meaningful manner. She develops a microcosm within herself and identifies with objects of her ain imaginativeness. Although frequently eldritch, her actions are really efforts of self-survival. As Laing observes, no affair how meaningless or odd the schizophrenics ‘ behavior may be their purpose is to salvage what is left of their being ( Evans 141 ) .

In malice of the restraints and parturiencies that stand against her pursuit for self-definition, Jane develops active rejection of her position quo. Her insistent inquiry “ what is one to make ” is fraught with elements of nonconformity. It sets the foundation for a rebellion against the male-dominated society ; a rebellion that would untangle her out of the traditional female function imposed by the patriarchal hegemony. Gradually, her desires take control and she additions strength as she pursues freedom.

In The Politicss of Experience, Laing argues that insanity might be viewed as a beginning of creativeness ( 62 ) . Jane ‘s creativeness is tangible from the beginning and it is set in struggle with John ‘s reason. Jane feels her freedom in her power of imaginativeness which is an built-in portion of her insanity. However, as a representative of the patriarchal system, John aims at undoing Jane ‘s inventive power and keeping his stiff reason. By trying to eliminate her accomplishment of authorship, John looks frontward to halting her procedure of self-realization in order to do her embracing the masculinist frame of the ideal married woman.

However, Jane ne’er suppresses her creativeness, and she starts to compose in secret. Actually, the narrative itself is portion of Jane ‘s secret Hagiographas in which she exercise her head in malice of her hubby ‘s Acts of the Apostless of disheartenment. Ultimately, Jane gets tired of concealing her authorship from everyone and declares “ I did compose for a piece in malice of them ; but it does wash up me a good deal-having to be so sly about it ” ( Gilman, Yellow 1577 ) . Hence she moves on to displace her creativeness on the xanthous wallpaper.

The xanthous wallpaper symbolizes the imprisonment of adult females within the patriarchal parturiencies. As Paula Treichler argues “ the xanthous wallpaper is diversely interpreted by readers to stand for the form which underlies sexual in-equality and Jane ‘s state of affairs within patriarchate ” ( 192 ) . It is truly important that the wallpaper itself, like the patriarchal restraints, is horrid and ugly and its form is impossible to specify or follow. The nexus between the xanthous wallpaper and the limitations imposed by patriarchate is enhanced by the fact that the more Jane becomes cognizant of the male forces, the more the wallpaper begins to uncover itself for her.

This nexus is farther enriched by virtuousness of the xanthous colour of the wallpaper. The colour yellow is symbolic of sunshine, and sunshine is symbolic of the principle domain of work forces. It is during the twenty-four hours that John issues his orders to Jane and overwhelms her with his eliminating normative agenda. On the other manus, Jane ‘s creativeness flourishes by the moonshine, which is associated with muliebrity. It is merely at dark that she is able to better understand the quandary of the adult female behind the wallpaper and link it with her ain imprisonment.

Jane identifies the adult female trapped behind the helter-skelter wallpaper, and she becomes her manner of self-expression. As the narrative progresses, Jane ‘s designation with that adult female is increased. Actually, the wallpaper adult female can be thought of as a kind of doppelganger to Jane. She represents Jane ‘s split mind and a manifestation of her schizophrenic disorder. The adult female behind the wallpaper and Jane are both imprisoned in the hegemonic zone. That is why Jane struggles to liberate the figure, and therefore herself, from that prison.

Jane declares her disobedience to the patriarchal system of societal bars symbolised in the wallpaper. She complains that “ this thing was non arranged on any Torahs of radiation, or alternation, or repeat, or symmetricalness, or anything else that I of all time heard of ” ( Gilman, Yellow 1574 ) . This is an knowing onslaught on the rational orientations in the philosophy of the phallocentric society. It indicates that this rational political orientation of the male society is merely a set of “ unheard-of-contradictions ” ( 1571 ) that have been assimilated without oppugning. Here Gilman is turning the tabular array against the patriarchal society ; the adult female who is judged by her society to be huffy lambasts that society for the deficiency of ground in its opinion.

Jane ‘s feelings of emancipation semen when she tears the wallpaper down. In rupturing the wallpaper, Jane develops an apparent symbolic inversion of the masculine and feminine functions. As she sees her hubby fainting upon seeing her weirdo about her sleeping room, she daringly addresses him stating “ I ‘ve pulled off most of the paper, so you ca n’t set me back! ” ( Gilman, Yellow 1581 ) . Jane is declaring her freedom from the restrictions imposed on her by society. She will no longer be the victim of these restrictions that have been adhering her interior spirit.

Emancipating herself and symbolically rupturing down the regulations and construction of patriarchate, Jane celebrates her triumph over her hubby every bit good as the patriarchal society. Even Jenny expresses this jubilation as “ she laughed and said she would n’t mind ( rupturing down the wallpaper ) herself ” ( Gilman, Yellow 1582 ) . This highlights the latent females ‘ desire to liberate themselves from John, the xanthous wallpaper and patriarchate.

True, the construct of lunacy in the narrative is embellished with new significances. Gilman presents lunacy as the lone pick for adult females in facing the parturiencies of the chauvinistic society. To this terminal, the doppelganger in the narrative represents non merely the supporter ‘s divided ego but besides the wretchedness of all adult females who are imprisoned and inhibited from set uping their individualities. Therefore, Jane ‘s insanity makes her a spectacle for all adult females to comprehend their predicament in the male-dominated society. This proves Gilman ‘s position that the narrative “ was non intended to drive people brainsick, but to salvage people from being brainsick ” ( Gilman, Why 19 ) .

Like Gilman, Doris Lessing, in her “ To Room Nineteen, ” aims at clarifying the hidden significance behind the behavior of the psychologically-disturbed adult females, and how this behavior might be the lone means of emancipation for them. Right from the beginning, Lessing proclaims her denouncement of the patriarchal position of reason as she indicates that it is a narrative about “ a failure in intelligence ” ( Lessing, Room 524 ) . She pokes merriment at the fact that, for the twosome, “ everything was in order, ” ( 527 ) and that their intelligence “ continued to asseverate that all was good ” ( 528 ) . As Janina Nordius notes, in the narrative, Lessing condemns “ modern society and its jubilation of intelligence ” ( 172 ) .

If Jane suffers from engulfment, Susan suffers from what Laing calls “ implosion. ” Laing indicates that the individual who suffers from implosion “ feels the panic of his emptiness ” ( Laing, Divided 45 ) . That is what Susan really suffers from. She defines her wretchedness as that of “ annoyance, restlessness, emptiness ” ( Lessing, Room 531 ) . Susan ‘s quandary goes so far that that she feels “ as if there is an enemy at that place waiting to occupy ( her ) ” ( 532 ) .

Laing maintains that the schizophrenic individual does non see himself “ together with others or at place in the universe, ” instead, he experiences the true ego “ in despairing loneliness and isolation ” ( Laing, Divided 39 ) . Susan feels her existent ego when she is entirely ; “ She needed when she was entirely, to be truly entirely, with no 1 near ” ( Lessing, Room 529 ) . Susan ‘s demand to be alone springs from her heart-felt desire for emancipation and self-fulfilment. It is basically an ontological pursuit, and that is why she declares: “ I have to larn to be myself once more. ” ( 528 ) . In this sense, Susan ‘s purdah bespeaks much potency for her and creates a universe full of chances for self-actualisation.

Laing argues that there are two manners of knowledge in the human consciousness. He calls them the “ egoic ” signifier of consciousness and the “ non-egoic ” signifier of consciousness. The dominant manner of knowledge is the egoic, which is characterized by a sense of “ a consistent identityaˆ¦within a model of certain land constructions of infinite and clip ” ( Laing, Politics 113 ) . Susan experiences a conflict between the egoic and non-egoic dimensions of individuality. In other words, she experience a struggle between her mental consciousness, which insists that she obeys the patriarchal outlooks of her function as married woman and female parent, and her interior consciousness, which motivates her for emancipation from the culturally-constructed construct of muliebrity.

Ultimately, Susan ‘s will for absolute freedom wins over. She comes to acknowledge that she must abdicate the rules of her mental consciousness and encompass the inherent aptitudes of her interior consciousness. In other words, Susan abandons her egoic individuality and moves to the non egoic signifier of consciousness through which she embarks on a ocean trip into her ain interior infinite and clip. This is viewed by the dominant society as a symptom of lunacy. For the rational male-dominated society, any point of position that goes against the mainstream masculine prescriptions is discarded as a signifier of craze.

Linda H. Halisky remarks on the sarcasm of the patriarchal judgement in the narrative. She observes that as Susan ‘s existent sense of the ego is actualized, the society around her claims that she is non “ herself. ” In other words, society has been programmed “ to label the look of that ego ‘madness ‘ ” ( 51 ) . Yet Susan ‘s position is that it is better to be huffy if the monetary value for non being mad is to be a victim of the male hegemony. Thus she would instead be labeled huffy than assimilate the prescriptions of a society that fixes her individuality.

Susan ‘s lunacy represents a new universe for her ; a universe that is of her ain devising. It serves a healing procedure which enables her find ways for self-attainment. Her lunacy becomes a beginning of freedom and emancipation from the culturally-defined image of the adult female. It is a protest set against the oppressing rules of the male-dominated society and a manner of making an alternate individuality different from the outlooks of that society.

In visible radiation of this statement, Susan ‘s self-destruction is far from being a mark of licking. Laing argues that in our life “ there are sudden, seemingly incomprehensible self-destructions that must be understood as the morning of a hope ” ( Laing, Politics 37 ) . Susan ‘s self-destruction initiates this hope. It is hope for reassertion of life, a liberating signifier of self averment and a damages of individuality. Susan enters the kingdom of decease willingly. She prefers decease over conformance and over via media with the culturally produced ego that patriarchate calls upon adult females to presume.

In this sense, the narrative proves Lessing ‘s position that Susan ‘s insanity “ had become a valuable lesson in regard for other people ‘s rights ” ( Lessing, Room 533 ) . Susan ‘s lunacy will be of great benefit, non merely for adult females but besides for all persons who feel persecuted by assorted forces. In this respect, Lessing is conveying a cosmopolitan message through Susan. At the terminal, Susan declares that whatever one likes to make, one is “ merely non to believe about the life ” ( 549 ) .

To recapitulate, the construct of lunacy deployed in Gilman ‘s and Lessing ‘s texts undermine one of the focal patriarchal strategies. Ellen Friedman, in his “ Doris Lessing: Fusion and Transcendence of the Female and the ‘Great Tradition ‘ , ” argues that “ In the female tradition, adult females characters who choose ordinary life above the options of decease or lunacy must compromise their aspirations to let themselves to be absorbed into a smothering universe ” ( 466 ) . Jane and Susan subvert this hegemonic paradigm. They reject the “ ordinary life ” and decline to “ compromise ” their aspiration of self-attainment. They retreat to madness, and even to decease as in the instance of Susan, as an diction of their rejection of the “ suffocating ” patriarchal universe.

In this sense, the statement provided in these two narratives turns the traditional impression of madness inverted and deconstructs the patriarchal jubilation of reason. In these texts, normalcy and conformance are viewed to be the existent signifiers of lunacy. Conformity to the regulations of society is the existent insane province because it implies cleaving to the dictates of a society that is itself insane. Hence, witting province of insanity is projected as the lone manner out from the society ‘s unconscious lunacy. It is presented as the lone method for achieving the true ego within this insane society.

In his psychological-political analysis of lunacy, Laing argues that the term is a societal fact and the societal fact a political event. He maintains that lunacy is non a province that one needs to be cured of ; instead it is “ a particular scheme that a individual invents in order to populate in an unliveable state of affairs ” ( qtd. in Martin 127 ) . Jane and Susan are strong plenty to populate in this “ unliveable ” state of affairs. For them, lunacy becomes “ a manner of being. ” Through their lunacy, they manage to accomplish a personal individuality which redefines the individuality that society imposes on them. The victory of the two characters in the two narratives substantiates Laing ‘s position that “ madness need non be a dislocation ; it may besides be a discovery ” ( Laing, Politics 129 ) .