George Washington University

"Documents in Madness": Reading Madness and Gender in Shakespeare's Tragedies and Early Modern Culture Author(s): Carol Thomas Neely Reviewed work(s): Source: Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Autumn, 1991), pp. 315-338 Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2870846 . Accessed: 30/10/2011 12:12
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Folger Shakespeare Library and George Washington University are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Shakespeare Quarterly.

http://www.jstor.org

"Documents in Madness": Reading Madness and Gender in Shakespeare's Tragedies and Early Modern Culture
CAROL THOMAS NEELY Olivia: How now?Artthoumad?
Clown: No, madam, I do but read madness. 5.1.293-94)1 (Twelfth Night, had we If others notbeenmad,then shouldbe.

William (ShoshanaFelmanquoting Blake)2 GeorgesBataillequoting
HIS ESSAY BEGINS TO INVESTIGATE THE CONTINUITIES and discontinuities between the above epigrams. In the Twelfth Nightexchange Olivia accuses Feste, her licensed fool,of madness; he defends himself againstthe of charge by declaring that he is ratheran interpreter madness, referring literallyto the letter he is reading from the supposedly mad Malvolio, to of and at a deeper level figuratively his fool'srole as a satirist human folly, to his apt inscription madness in Malvolio, the ambitiousPuritan social of climber and foolish would-be lover of Olivia. In the second quotation Shoshana Felman, in the epigram to her book Writing Madness,identiand fiesherselfwiththe madness thatis her subjectin a quotation whichenacts the intertextuality espoused by contemporarytheorists. Feste inscribes madness to thwartMalvolio's desires and reads madness to dissociatehimselffromit; Felman reads madness to associate herselfwithitand to license desire. As the epigrams imply,madness is a conundrum to those who would studyit.It is a materialconditionthat,to be understood,mustbe read, made sense of, inscribedinto discourse.3As Michael MacDonald has aptlynoted, it is "the most solitary afflictions the people who experience it; but it is of to

I am indebted to the questions, comments, and suggestions of fellow participants in Shakespeare Association of America seminars ahd of audiences who heard versionsof this the University Illinois at Urbanaof essay at Dartmouth College, Illinois State University, of and at the conference"New Languages Champaign, the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee, forthe Stage" at the University Kansas. I am especiallyindebtedto hard questionsraised by of Peter Stallybrass, Steven Mullaney,Jean Howard, Richard Knowles,Richard P. Wheeler,and Michael Shapiro, and by Shakespeare Quarterly's anonymous readers and carefuleditors. All citations Shakespeare playswillappear in textand referto TheComplete of Classic Signlet Shakespeare, Sylvan Barnet, gen. ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972). 2 Writing and Mladniess (LiteraturelPhilosoplhylPsvchoa trans. Martha Noel Evans and nalvsis), Shoshana Felman (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1985), p. 11. 3 W. F. Bxnum, Roy Porter,and Michael Essaysiin of Shepherd, eds., TheAnatolm Aladnes.s: theHistonr Pschtiatrl, 3 vols. (Lond(on: Tavistock, 1985), Vol. 1, p. 7. of

316

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

the most social of maladies to those who observe its effects."4 Today, as in the earlymodern period, it is detectedbylaypersonsbeforeitis referredto it doctors.Because it is "theoretically indeterminate,"5 mustbe definedand its and therapiesare always read fromwithinsome framework; definitions constructedfrom a particularhistoricalmoment and withina particular thatorder. The finaldifficulty social order,influencedbyand influencing of reading madness-implicit in the two epigrammaticexchanges-is that in the act of doing so, one dissociatesoneselffromitor associatesoneselfwith it, and in either case becomes disqualified as an interpreter.To read madness sanelyis to missthe point; to read madness madlyis to have one's pointbe missed. In thisessay I wantto begin to examine why,how,and with what consequences madness was read and representedin England in the early modern period by focusingon how representationsof madness in Shakespeare's tragediesfunctionwithinwider culturalcontexts. 1 It has long been recognizedthatEngland in the period from1580 to 1640 was fascinatedwithmadness, although some aspects of thisobsession have been overestimatedor misreported.The signs of its fascinationare to be found in the treatiseson the topic by Battie, Bright, Jorden, Wright,and of Burton; in the theatricalrepresentations madness in the plays of Kyd, Shakespeare, Dekker, Middleton,Fletcher,and Webster;in the large numbers of patientswho consulted such well-known doctorsas Richard Napier withsymptoms mentaldistress; of and John Hall (Shakespeare's son-in-law) and in the widespread referencesto and representationsof Bethlem, or in Bedlam, the popular name forBethlehem Hospital, the main institution in this period whichconfinedthe insane. Bedlam, according to a England 1598 visitationreport made a couple of years before Hamletand Twelfth contained only twenty inmates: nine men and eleven Nightwere written, women (or perhaps ten of each). The thirty-one inmates listed in a 1624 in whichwas tiny, caused overcrowding the institution, report "loathsomely and filthely kept," and badly mismanaged. The term "Bedlam" was in widespread use in earlymodern England notso muchbecause of theimpact of the institution itself (whichhad been in existenceas a hospitalsince about 1330 and may have startedaccepting disturbed patientssometimebefore record reportsthe presence of six men "mente 1403, when a visitation capti") but because ithad become a code word in Elizabethanand Jacobean culture for the confused, charged, and contestedtopic of madness.6
4 Michael MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam:Madness,Anxiety, Healing in Seventeenth-Century and England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981), p. 1. 5 Andrew Scull, Social Order/Mental Disorder: in Psychiatry Historical Anglo-American Perspective (Berkeley: Univ. of CaliforniaPress, 1989), p. 8. 6 See Patricia Allderidge, "Management and mismanagementat Bedlam, 1547-1633" in and in ed. Health,medicine, mortality thesixteenth century, Charles Webster (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979), pp. 141-64, esp. pp. 153, 143. This essay and a subsequent one by of Allderidge, "Bedlam: factor fantasy?"in Anatomy Madness,Vol. 2, pp. 17-33, correctthe of inaccuraciesand fantasies Bedlam scholarship, E. especiallythoseof thestandardhistory, G. in O'Donoghue, The Story Bethlehem of Hospital:FromitsFoundation 1247 (New York: Dutton, 1914). Although manyBedlam inmateswere released, some were incarceratedfor periods of were small; therecould have been fewactual twenty yearsor more,and numbersand turnover Tom o' Bedlams wanderingthe countryside.

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

317

Madness, a concept in transitionin the period, begins to be read/conin and seventeenth centuries structed/experienced differently the sixteenth than it had been in the Middle Ages (where it marked the intersection of human and transcendent)or than it will be in subsequent eras. In the it eighteenthcentury, willbecome, as Michel Foucault claims,the mark of unreason, the symbol of the animal side of human nature that needs confinementand restraint;in the nineteenthcentury,insanity(now the preferredterm7)becomes identifiedwithhereditarydegradation and imand is to be rectified "moral treatment" domestication. the or In morality by latterhalfof the twentieth the theorists, anti-psychicentury, philosophers, into the chemical basis for mental disatrymovement,and investigations orders have collapsed the boundaries between mad and sane, mental and thatwere being constructedin the Renaissance. physical,real and illusory, This twentieth-century breakdownof partitions apparent in both medis ical practice and philosophical theory.In the 1960s the clinical and theoreticalwork of Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing, and the anti-psychiatry movement argued that mental illness was a myth used to bring disruptive behavior under control,a "sane" reactionto oppression in the family and in theculture.8Currentpublic policymandatingthedeinstitutionalization and of distressedsimilarly "mainstreaming" the mentally (thoughwithdifferent motives) loosens boundaries between the sane and the insane. Current research and recenttherapies stressthe biochemicalbasis of and pharmafor cological treatments mental distress,re-splicingmind and body. Likewise, for literarytheoristsand philosophers, reading madness functions subversivelyto blur boundaries, to put the verb "to know" in quotation marks,as Shoshana Felman notes.9Poststructuralist philosophersof radical skepticismlike Derrida and Lacan, denying the possibilityof a unified of subject withcontinuous identity, a coherentlanguage thatcan ever say what it means, of "true" knowledge of the world, erase the boundaries between madness and sanitythatwere constructedin the Renaissance and and policed in the Enlightenment. Most influentially, Michel strengthened Foucault'sMadnessand Civilization critiquestheAge of Reason forexploiting the discourse of madness and the confinement the mad to erase reason's of unreason. antithesis, Because currenttheoriesand therapiesof madness work to deconstruct what the early modern period workedto construct, misreadingsof the past are likely.Too often,analysesof the culturalconstruction madness,like of thoseof Foucault and Elaine Showalter,failto historicize theirown position and to distinguishit from that of earlier periods. Both these influential
7 The OED records thisshiftin a the definition mad of cautionaryparagraph following first from mental disease; beside oneself; out of one's mind; insane, lunatic"), which ("Suffering prescribes:"The word has always had some tinge of contemptor disgust and would now be to quite inappropriatein medical use or in referring sympathetically an insane person as the means not sound, not healthy, Insane, fromthe Latin rootinsanus, not subjectof an affliction." curable,and does not come into widespread use untilthe eighteenthcentury, when itappears first medical and legal contexts.Madness, the earlier term,is not the opposite of not-mad in but on a continuumwithit. 8 Szasz, The Mythof Mental Illness:Foundations a Theory PersonalConduct(New York: of of Harper and Row, 1974); Laing, The Divided Self: A studyof sanityand madness(London: Tavistock, 1960). 9p. 12.

318

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

accounts are weakened by inadequate knowledgeof periods beforethaton Showalteron whichtheyfocus (Foucault focuseson the eighteenth century, the nineteenth); by a conventional,hence inaccurate, view of historical distinctions betweenaesthetic periodization;by a refusalto make sufficient and other sortsof historicaldata; and by a failure to fully representation gender the subject of madness. For Foucault there are only madmen; for Showalterthere are only madwomen.0l 2 In the earlymodern period the discourseof madness gained prominence because it was implicated in the medical, legal, theological,political,and of social aspects of the reconceptualization the human. Graduallymadness, and hence sanity, began to be secularized,medicalized,psychologized,and (at least in representation) gendered. In the Middle Ages, madness was seen between the human, the divine, and the deas the point of intersection or monic. It was viewed alternatively simultaneouslyas possession, sin, the of and disease, and it confirmed inseparability the human punishment, and transcendent." By theorizingand representingmadness, the Renaissance graduallyand withdifficulty began to tryto separate human madness from the supernatural (fromdemonic and divine possession, as does EdThe Suffocation theMother);from the ward Jorden's treatiseon hysteria, of spiritual (from doubt, sin, guilt, and rational suicide, as does Timothy and bewitchment does fromwitchcraft (as of Bright'sTreatise Melancholy); from frauds who imitated these Scot's Discouerieof Witchcraft); Reginald conditions(as does Samuel Harsnett'sDeclaration Egregious of PopishImpos10 Michel Foucault, Madnessand Civilization: A History Insanity theAge ofReason,trans. in of Richard Howard (New York: Tavistock, 1967), and Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: 1830-1980 (New York: Pantheon, 1985). Showalterlooks Women, Madness,and EnglishCulture, only at women's experience of madness and only after 1830, and the categoryof gender is canvas. The discussionof the period fromthe Middle missingfromFoucault's large intuitive and least supported part of his centuryis the mostsketchy Ages to the end of the seventeenth for book (at least in the English translation), his concept of the modern centralizedstatedoes like Mental institutions Bedlam oftendeveloped not make sense of early modern institutions. early out of medieval hospitals; unlike leper houses, they attempted cures and declared of continuous, patientsrecovered. Confinement the mad is also more varied,more historically and more complicated in its representations,aims, and consequences than Foucault or of Showalter allows. But Foucault's intuitionsabout the transformation the madman from supernatural voyager to secular case study are useful, as are Showalter's analyses of the associations among women, madness, and sexualitywhich developed in representationsof see "Madness and of madwomen. For criticism Foucault byan historian, H. C. Erik Midelfort, the Civilizationin Early Modern Europe: A Reappraisal of Michel Foucault" in After ReformaBarbara C. Malament,ed. (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsyltion:essays honor in ofJ.H. Hexter, of vania Press, 1980), pp. 247-66. For criticism Showalter by an historianof medicine, see Health,and Nancy Tomes, "Historical Perspectiveson Women and Mental Illness" in Women, in A Rima D. Apple, ed. (New York: Garland, 1990), pp. Medicine America: Historical Handbook, 143-71. I am gratefulto Nancy Tomes forallowingme to read her reviewessay in manuscript formbefore its publication. 1I See especially pages 45-55 in Judith S. Neaman, Suggestion theDevil: The Originsof of Madness(New York: Anchor Books, 1975), a studyof the medical,theological,legal, and social in the Middle Ages. See also Penelope Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's contextsof madness Children: in Literature Conventions Madnes.s MiddleEnglish (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1974), chap. of Bedlam,pp. 3-4. 1; and MacDonald, Mvystical

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

319

and fromthe sheerlyphysical(as do Jorden and doctorslike Richard tures); Napier and John Hall in theirdiagnoses of epilepsy and menstrualdisorders), and began to tryto map the normal, "natural,"and self-contained secular human subject. Splittingthe supernatural from the natural, and attemptingto define what remained, the period began to separate mind from body, man fromwoman, insanityfromboth sanityand from other heresy,and crime. We can watch the types of aberrance such as poverty, linked aspects of this multifacetedprocess unfold in treatiseson melanin and witchcraft, medical and legal practice,and in the choly, hysteria, drama. In his A Treatise Melancholy TimothyBright(at the time a doctor and of an Anglican priest)provides elaborate classifications madof subsequently ness and recommendationsfor treatmentthat serve, by complex distincto tionsbetweenthe spiritualand the psycho-physiological, subordinatethe former. The treatiseis writtenin the form of a letter to a male friend, from what we would call depression. addressed as "M", who is suffering between Designed to cure M, the letteradvises him on how to distinguish spiritual doubt and the disease of natural melancholy. Spiritual doubt, and inexpressibleloss caused by the sense of sin and the incomprehensible of God's favor, is to be cured by penitence, prayer, and faith. Spiritual consolationis thesubjectof thelongestof the treatise's forty-one chapters.12 outlinesan etiology melancholythatexplicatesthe of The restof thetreatise between the soul, mind, passions, and body, on the elaborate interactions one hand, and, on the other, the animal spiritsthat unifythem. Natural depression is caused by the unnatural excess or combustion of natural melancholy,the cold dry humor or black bile that,when burned, causes such symptomsas passivity, unsociability, fury,stupidity, paranoia, lust, mania, but especiallysorrowand fear. Bright'srecommended treatanger, is ment(remarkably diet,exercise,sleep, and good friends. familiar) healthy In Bright's treatise,however,the careful distinctions between spiritual and physiologicalmelancholyrepeatedlycollapse. Both statesare characterized by the same symptoms:hallucinatoryterror and unreasonable sadness. Natural melancholypredisposes one to spiritualdoubt while spiritual doubt exacerbates the pathologyof the black bile. Both the medical therapy,based on diet and rest,and the spiritualcure, dependent on faith and grace, are designed to relieve the loss of self-worth that characterizes is equally both formsof the disease. The effect to merge the two kinds of melancholyand to subordinatethe spiritualcauses and cure to the psychological and physiologicalones. The gender of M, the respectfulscholarly of tone of Bright's letter/treatise, the identification the disease with and spiritualdoubt all point to the associationsof melancholywiththe fashionthe masculine-associations thatbecome able, the upper class, the literate, more prominentin Robert Burton's TheAnatomy Melancholy (1621). of yet While Bright'streatisestrives to unsuccessfully distinguish spiritualguilt from natural melancholy, Edward Jorden's landmark treatise,A Briefe Discourse a DiseaseCalledthe sets Suffocation the of of Mother, out to distinguish to bewitchmentfrom insanity(and, indirectly, legitimizelicensed physi12 In the original edition of Bright (London: Thomas Vautrollier, 1586), as in the 1969 Theatrum Orbis Terrarum facsimile, chapter,number36, pages 207-42, is misnumbered this chapter 30.

320

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

cians). It is directedatJorden'sfellowmembersof the College of Physicians, who,as trainedand experienced doctorsare, he claims"bestable to discerne what is naturall, what not naturall, what preternaturall, and what supernaturall,"'3and who mightthereforebe called upon, as Jorden had on in been, to testify the statusof the victim's symptoms witchtrials.If these are diagnosed as natural in origin, the result of hysteria,the symptoms accused witchis acquitted (as over half were'4); if theyare found supernatural, she (or, infrequently, is convicted.The diagnosis is a difficult he) one to make because the symptoms bewitchment of and hysteria are identical.Hysteriawas caused, traditional medicinebelieved,bythe pathologyof the diseased and wanderingwomb,and hence itwas primarily althoughnot exclusivelya disease of women: "The passiue condition of womankind is subiect vnto more diseases and of other sortesand natures then men are: and especially in regarde of that part fromwhence this disease which we speake of doth arise,"Jorden declares.'5 One internalcause of the disease, is of blood or sperma Jordenclaimswithsome reticence, retention menstrual or (which women were believed to have) due to sexual frustration the suppression of the "flowers,"the menstrual periods. The origin of the fantastic and disconnected symptoms the disease-swooning, paralysis, of choking,convulsions,numbness,delirium,epilepsy,headaches-is the wild peregrinationsof the uncontrollableuterus and its capacityto corruptall the partsof the body. One recommendedcure is marriage,whichinstitutes regular sexual relationsand thusaids in evacuationof fluidsand bringsthe wild uterus under a husband's control.In spite of the tendencyof such an as analysisto identify hysteria a disease of women,Jordendoes notexplicitly draw this conclusion and referswithoutcomment (as do other writers)to men who suffer from"the mother."'6 This association of hysteria withwomen, especiallywomen of the upper classes, incipientin the early modern period, is present as well in Robert Burton'scompendious Anatomy Melancholy. theall-malefrontispiece As of of the book suggests,Burton associatesmelancholyespeciallywithmale scholars, philosophers,and geniuses like Democritus and himself,although its causes and symptomsare multitudinous and its sufferers everywhere. are But when he defines the "Symptomesof Maides, Nunnes, and Widowes melancholy,"he associates this type with "fitsof the mother,"which he representsas linked with marital,sexual, and class status,associated with sexual frustration, cured by sexual satisfaction: and "For seldome shall you see an hired seruant,a poore handmaid, though ancient thatis kept hard to her worke, and bodily labour, a course countrywench troubled in this kinde." Those who are "prone to the disease" are "noble virgins,nice gentlewomen,such as are solitaryand idle, live at ease, lead a life out of actionand imployment, thatfarewellin greathouses and Ioviall companies,
13 Jorden'streatise from (London: Iohn Windet,1603) is available in a 1971 facsimile reprint Theatrum Orbis Terrarum; quotationat fol.C r. See Michael MacDonald's reprint ofJorden's and in London:EdwardJorden the and MaryGlover Case pamphletin Witchcraft Hysteria Elizabethan (London: Routledge, 1991). 14 Keith Thomas, and the DeclineofMagic (New York: Scribners,1971), pp. 451-52. Religion 15

fols. F4r,G3r, F4v-G1r, H1r.Jorden is the first findthe source of hysterical to symptoms in the brain as well as in the uterus. See Ilza Veith,Hysteria: History a Disease (Chicago: The of Univ. of Chicago Press, 1965), pp. 122-23.
16

fol. B1 r.

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

321

ill-disposed peraduenture of themselues, and not willing to make any resistance,discontentedotherwise,of weake judgement, able bodies, and subject to passions." Like Jorden, Burton recommends marriage as a "remedy."17 Jorden's Discoursenot only aims to forestallmistakendiagnoses of bewitchment but also to expose "impostures"who only pretend to have the titledand cogentlyargued TheDiscousymptoms. Reginald Scot's ironically erieof Witchcraft (1584) is written thisJusticeof the Peace to deny the by theirbehavior, insupernatural powers of witchesthemselves, attributing to of or confessions, the effects melancholy hysteria. cluding theirvoluntary of This diagnosis,of course, has the effect continuingthe secularizationof witchcraft medicalizingwitches'behavior. (Witchcraft had begun to be by secularized when its disposition was consigned to civil courts by a 1542 statute.)Samuel Harsnett(an ambitiouschaplin to Bishop Bancroft)joined the establishedchurch'scoordinatedcampaign againstCatholicand Puritan exorcists in his A Declarationof EgregiousPopishImpostures (1603), which attacksillegal Catholic exorcism rituals,exposing both possession and exorcismas instigated insanity-fraud.18These contextsmay help to explain betweenfeigned whythe drama of the period oftenfocuseson distinctions and actual madness and representstests,like Claudius's testof Hamlet, to uncover fraud.19While witchcraft prosecutionscontinue to take place in England until 1680, these treatisesand others functionto medicalize the behavior of witches and thebewitchedand to call the trialsintoquestion. In these areas-bewitchment, possession,witchcraft-madnessis becoming a to definedas supernaturalin psychologicalalternative conditionsformerly origin and treatment. On the new stagesof the public theaters,Shakespeare, followingKyd in and King Lear revisingclassical and Senecan tragedy,in Hamlet,Macbeth, siteforits shapes a new language formadness and providesone important The plays,by representing redefinition.20 both madness and the process of and disseminatethecomplicateddistinctions reading madness, theatricalize thatthe treatises theorize.In thedrama, as in thecultureoutside it,madness is diagnosed by thosewho observeit-both specialists and laypersons.Their
17TheAnatomy Melancholy, it What is. With the all and Kindes, Causes,Symptomes, of Prognostickes, SeverallCures of it, 4th ed. (Oxford: J. Lichfield,1632), pp. 202, 204. In fact,according to MacDonald's statistics, althoughfarlargernumbersand percentagesof womencame to Napier to report distressin connectionwithcourtship,love, sex, and marriage negotiations, most of these suffererswere untitled (Mystical Bedlam,Table 3.6, p. 95; see also p. 94). Perhaps women suffered aristocratic less stressin matters courtshipand marriagebecause theyhad of littleor no choice in the matter. 18 For discussionof the politicalclimatethatproduced Jorden'sand Harsnett'spamphletsin 1603, see Thomas, pp. 482-86; Stephen Greenblatt,"Shakespeare and the Exorcists" in The Circulation Social Energyin Renaissance Negotiations: Shakespearean of England (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1988), pp. 94-128; MacDonald, Witchcraft, vii-lxiv. pp. 19Two other plays of the period thatcontain scenes in whichcharactersundergo a testfor Part I (1604) and Middleton and Rowley's The madness are Dekker's The Honest Whore, (c. Changeling 1623). 20 Ascriptions of madness occur elsewherein Shakespeare, beginningwithTitusAndronicus, and concludingwiththe extended portrait theJailer's TheComedy Errors, and Twelfth of of Night Her characterization connectionswithOphelia's and has Daughter in The TwoNobleKinsmen. withthatof the madwomen and groups of madpersons in otherJacobean plays,forexample, Dekker's HonestWhore, PartI, Webster's Duchess Malfi,Fletcher'sThePilgrim, Middletonand of Such representations will be the subject of another essay. Rowley'sThe Changeling.

322

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

readings enable the drama's audience to participatewith them in distinguishing madness from sanity and from madness's look-alikes-loss of possession,or fraud. Since madness,like itsimitations, grace, bewitchment, is extreme,dislocated, irrational,alienated-separated both from the self who performsand the spectatorswho watch-the diagnosis is difficult. In Shakespeare's plays thatmake thisdiagnosis, the speech of the mad characters constructsmadness as secular, sociallyenacted, gender- and classmarked, and medicallytreatable. 3 Althoughthe importanceof madness in the period's drama, especiallyin that of Shakespeare, has long been acknowledged, and although literary historianshave outlined its anatomy and traced its occurrences,21there have been few recent attemptsto understand its rhetoricalstructureand dramatic functionin Shakespeare's tragedies,or its wider cultural significance. Take, forexample, responses to Ophelia and to Lear. A. C. Bradley two centuriesof views sums up, at the beginningof the twentieth century, of and visual representationsof Ophelia in madness as beautiful,sweet, and dismissible.22 More recently, feminist critics, lovable,pathetic, challengthisinterpretation, have read Ophelia's madness as eitherher liberation ing from silence, obedience, and constraintor her absolute victimization by critics often patriarchaloppression.23In responses to KingLear, traditional see Lear's madness as a means to illuminationand self-knowledge.24 Significantcontemporaryanalyses, in opposing the humanist optimism of theseearlierinterpretations, notice. oddly pass over Lear's madness without monograph,"The Avoidance of Love: A ReadStanleyCavell's influential ing of King Lear," bypasses the long period when Lear is, as he puts it, "stranded in madness." Stephen Greenblatt's important new historicist essay,"King Lear and the Exorcists," reinterprets Edgar's feignedmadness but ignores Lear's actual madness.JonathanDollimore, ratherthan seeing
21 Robert Rentoul Reed, Jr.,Bedlamon theJacobean Stage(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. in Literature Press, 1952); Lawrence Babb, TheElizabethan Malady:A Study Melancholia English of 1580-1642 (East Lansing: MichiganState Univ. Press, 1951); and BridgetGellertLyons, from VoicesofMelancholy: in Studiesin literary treatments melancholy Renaissance of England (London: Routledge, 1971). The discussionclosestto mine is Lillian Feder's analysisof Lear's madness in Madnessin Literature (Princeton,N.J.: PrincetonUniv. Press, 1980), p. 6 and pp. 119-46. 22 Lectures Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth (New York: St. on Tragedy: Shakespearean Martin'sPress, 1985), pp. 132-33. As a resultof thisattitude,Bradley did not give Ophelia's mad scenes the detailed analysisthathe is elsewhere known for. 23 These of theorists' of interpretations Ophelia replicatefeminist polarized interpretations the association between women and madness. For positivereadings of the textual representationsof the connection,see Sandra Gilbertand Susan Gubar, TheMadwoman the in Attic (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1979); of Ophelia, see Carol Thomas Neely, BrokenNuptialsin Plays(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1985), pp. 103-4. For the negativeaspectsof Shakespeare's the connection,see Showalter,The FemaleMalady,and for an extended discussion of representations of Ophelia, see Showalter, "Representing Ophelia: women, madness, and the in of criticism" Shakespeare theQuestion Theory, and Patricia Parker responsibilities feminist of and Geoffrey Hartman, eds. (London: Methuen, 1985), pp. 77-94. Showalterdiscusses how different of periods representOphelia according to theirstereotypes female insanity. 24 See, among many examples, Robert Bechtold Heilman, This Great Stage: Image and in Structure King Lear (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1948), pp. 173-223; Paul A. Jorgensen,Lear's Self-Discovery (Berkeley: Univ. of CaliforniaPress, 1967), pp. 78-82.

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

323

radical theatricalor social implicationsto Lear's madness, dismisses it as None of these critics, "demented mumbling."25 representingvarious currenttheoreticalapproaches, reads madness closelyin the plays. None asks, as I do here, how its linguisticconstruction,its gender-coding,and its dramaticfunctionsparticipatein culturalneeds, practices,and attitudes. Shakespeare, prefiguringFoucault's analysis,dramatizes madness primarilythrougha peculiar language more oftenthan throughphysiological symptoms,stereotyped behaviors, or iconographic conventions.26This characteristic speech is both somethingand nothing,both coherent and to read thislanguage, trying make incoherent.Spectators,onstage and off, "sense" of it, translatingit into the discourse of sanity. Shakespeare's obsession, and language of madness is characterized by fragmentation, by repetition,and most importantly what I will call "quotation," which The mad are might instead be called "bracketing"or "italicization."27 "beside themselves";their discourse is not their own. But the voices that speak throughthemare not (even in the case of Edgar's parody of possession) supernatural voices but human ones-cultural ones perhaps. The prose thatis used forthismad speech (althoughitincludesembedded songs and rhymes) implies disorderlyshape,28associates madness with popular tradition, and contributes to its colloquial, "quoted" character. These quoted voices, however, have connectionswith (or can be interpretedto and history, connect with) the mad characters'pre-mad gendered identity stresses-as well as withlargerthemes theirsocial contextand psychological of the plays and of the culture.The alienated speech allows psychological thematicresonance,culturalconstructions, and social critique. plausibility, between female hysteriaand it, Shakespeare representsdistinctions Using and feigned male melancholyin Hamlet,between supernaturalwitchcraft and between feigned possession and natural natural alienation in Macbeth, madness in King Lear. Onstage characters mediate this pregnant, mad discourse, showing us how to translateit in ways made explicitby the anonymous Gentleman in
25 Cavell, In DisowningKnowledge Six Plays of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987), pp. 39-124, esp. pp. 50, 74, and 77); Greenblatt(cited in n. 18, above), pp. and Drama ofShakespeare and 94-128; Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology Powerin the hisContemporaries (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 193. 26 For Foucault, language constitutesmadness; "Language is thefirstand last structure of madness" 100 [cited in n. 10, above]). Since madness is unreason, the "delirious discourse" (p. (p. 99) that constitutesit is the inverse of reason but, in effect,identical with it. It involves "sedimentation the body of an infinitely in repeated discourse" (p. 97), "thelanguage of reason enveloped in the prestigeof the image" (p. 95). "Itis in thisdelirium,whichis of both body and that all the cycles of soul, of both language and image, of both grammar and physiology, madness conclude and begin" (pp. 100-101). 27 I take the notion of italicizedwriting fromNancy K. Miller,"Emphasis Added: Plots and in Plausibilities Women's Fiction"in TheNewFeminist Criticism: and Literature, Essayson Women, Elaine Showalter, ed. (New York: Pantheon, 1985), pp. 339-60. She extends Luce Theory, Is (in Irigaray'sanalysisof women's special relationto the mimetic ThisSex Which NotOne) and definesitalicsas a modalityof intensity, and emphasis thatcharacterizeswomen's intonation, writing 343). (p. 28 A. C. that Shakespeare invariably uses prose to Bradley notes, in Shakespearean Tragedy, represent abnormal states of mind like madness or Lady Macbeth's somnambulism (pp. 335-37). I am indebted to Lars Engle forbringingthisdiscussionto myattention.

324

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

extended "documentin Hamletwho introducesOphelia, Shakespeare's first madness": in She ... speaksthings doubt but That carry halfsense.Her speechis nothing, Yet theunshapeduse of itdothmove at to The hearers collection; they yawn it, to ownthoughts, And botchthewordsup fit their and nodsand gestures as Which, herwinks yieldthem, be there Indeed wouldmakeone think might thought, sure,yetmuchunhappily. Thoughnothing
(4.5.6-13)29

The speech here described is painful, unshaped un-sense that can be "botched" up into shape by an audience's perceptions.Ophelia's alienated It and gendered interpretation. discourse invitesa psychological, thematic, resituatessacred materialin a secular, psychologicalcontext,and she and between feigned and actual madness and beHamlet act out distinctions thatthe culturewas gradually tween rationaland mad suicide, distinctions establishing. throughfragmentary, Ophelia's madness is representedalmost entirely coherentquoted discourse.Through it,rituals communal,and thematically elsewhere involvingthe supernatural are appropriated and secularized. Ophelia recitesformulas,tales, and songs that ritualizepassages of transare and and loss-lost love, lostchastity, death. These transitions formation alluded to in social formulasof greetingand leave-taking:"Well, God dild 42, you," "Good night,ladies, good night"(11. 73); in religiousformulasof grace and benediction: "God be at your table!" "God 'a' mercyon his soul! /And of all Christiansouls, I prayyou" (11. 44, 198-99); in allusions to folk legends or tales of daughters' metamorphicchanges in status: tales of the "owl [who] was a baker's daughter"(11. 42-43) and of the master'sdaughter stolen by the steward. Her songs likewiseenact truncatedritesof passage. Love and itsloss are embodied in the song of the "truelove,"imagined witha cockle hat, staff, and sandals, all icons of his pilgrimage.She singsof Valentine'sDay loss of when a maid crosses a thresholdboth literal and psychological: virginity "Then up he rose and donned his clothes/And dupped the chamberdoor, /Let in the maid, thatout a maid /Never departed more.... /Young men will do't if theycome to't,/By Cock, theyare to blame" (11.52-55, 61-62). This imagined deflowering preemptsand precludes a marriageritual.The other songs mourn a death and representthe concretemarkersof a spare funeral ritual-a flaxen poll, a bier, 'a stone, no flowers.They enable Ophelia to mourn her father'sdeath, enact his funeral,encounterhis dead body,and findconsolationforher loss: "He is gone, he is gone, /And we cast Ophelia's other awaymoan" (11.196-97). Into thiscentralloss and itsrituals, of losses or imagined losses-of lover, of virginity, "fairjudgement"-are of absorbed. Her distribution flowersto the court is an extension of her
The phrase "document in madness" occurs at 4.5.178. Other mad charactersare given equally precise and explicit introductions:see the conversation between Lady Macbeth's as waitingwoman and the doctor (5.1.1-20) and Edgar's commentary he disguises himselfas Poor Tom in Lear (2.3.1-21).
29

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

325

quoted discourse, an enacted ritual of dispersal, symbolizinglost love, deflowering,and death. A secularized cultural ritual of maturationand mourningis enacted throughOphelia's alienated speech.30 in Ophelia's madness,as the play presentsit,begins to be gender-specific of will waysthatlaterstage representations Ophelia and of femalehysterics shifts direction, of her "winksand agitation, exaggerate.31Her restlessness, nods and gestures"(1. 11) suggestthespasms of "themother"and show that madness is exhibitedby the body as well as in speech; gestureand speech, equally convulsive, blend together: Ophelia "beats her heart, / Spurns (11. enviouslyat straws" 5-6). The contextof her disease, like thatof hysteria social helplessness,and enforced control over later, is sexual frustration, thiscontext.Laertes's women's bodies. The contentof her speech reflects anguished response to Ophelia as a "document in madness"-"Thought / and affliction, (11. passion, hell itself, She turnsto favorand to prettiness" can 187-88)-shows how the reading of madness's self-representation aestheticize the condition, mitigatingboth its social critique and its alien aspects. In a similarfashionGertrudenarratesOphelia's death as beautiful, of natural, and eroticized,foreshadowinglater representations it and repas and theatrically alresentationsof female hysterics sexually frustrated of introducesconventionsfor luring.The representation Ophelia implicitly reading madness as gender-inflected. likewisebegin to take shape in the contrasts between Gender distinctions Hamlet and Ophelia. Although Ophelia in her mad scenes can be seen to serve as a double for Hamlet during his absence fromDenmark and from the play,32Hamlet's madness is in everyway contrastedwithhers, in part, no doubt, to emphasizethedifference betweenfeignedand actual madness. His discourse, although witty, savage, and characterizedby non sequiturs almost never has the "quoted," fragmentary, rituand bizarre references, alized quality of Ophelia's-as we are instructed:"Nor what he spake, / though it lacked forma little, Was not like madness" (3.1.164-65). Significantly,the one timeit is "like madness"-that is, like Ophelia's speech-is after the encounter with his father'sghost, when Hamlet must abruptly reenter the human, secular world of his friends.The "wild and whirling words" (1.5.133) thathe uttersto effect this transition are quoted truisms and social formulasfor partingwhich are incoherently deployed: at morecircumstance all, And so, without thatwe shakehandsand part: I holdit fit and desireshallpointyou, You, as yourbusiness
1, 30Joan Klein, "'Angels and Ministersof Grace': Hamlet,IV,v-vii," Allegorica, 2 (1976), 156-76, reads Ophelia's madnesscloselyand attendsto the culturallore thatshe drawson. But whereas she sees Ophelia's role as providential,as a ministerto Hamlet, I see religious referencesas splitofffromtheirtheologicalcontextin her mad speech. Much of the attention devoted to Ophelia's speeches has been directedtowardidentifying referents her songs, the of to especially the "truelove,"and determining whichcharactersthe songs are addressed. My analysis suggests that it is not possible to pinpoint a single referentor audience since the discourse's referents are multipleand are both personal and cultural. See PeterJ. Seng, The A VocalSongsin the History PlaysofShakespeare: Critical (Cambridge,Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1967), pp. 131-56, for a summaryof commentary. 31 Cf. Showalter,FemaleMalady(cited in n. 10, above). 32Joan Klein sees Ophelia as Hamlet's surrogate and minister,and Lyons sees her as mirroring aspects of Hamlet's melancholy(pp. 11-12), but I see her as a "dark double" who, in Gilbertand Gubar's sense, acts out what is repressed in Hamlet.

326

SHAKESPEAREQUARTERLY

For every man hathbusiness and desire Such as itis,and formyownpoor part, Look you,I'll go pray. (11. 127-32) Afterthismomentof dislocationhe announces a plan to feignmadness, to "put an antic dispositionon" (1. 172); and he is able to "go in together"(1. withthe worldof human fellowship himself 186) withhis friends, reuniting and sanity,although he is himself marked by the remembrance of the Ghost's "commandment"(1. 102). distinction betweenHamlet's feignedmadness and Ophelia's The stylistic Henceforthin the play, actual madness is emphasized byotherdistinctions. Hamlet is presented as fashionablyintrospectiveand melancholy while Ophelia becomes alienated, acting out the madness Hamlet only plays at. Whereas her madness is somatized and its content eroticized, Hamlet's melancholy is politicized in form and content. Caused purportedlyby Claudius's usurpation of the throne and by his father'scommandment,it and it is viewed as politically itselfin social criticism, manifests dangerous. withinthe castle; must be watched, contained withinthe family, Ophelia contained and later expelled to England to be murHamlet must be first dered. By acting out the madness Hamlet feignsand the suicide that he of theorizes,the representation Ophelia absorbs pathologicalexcesses open to Hamlet and enables his reappearance as a sane, autonomous individual and and a tragichero in thelastact. There he appears detached fromfamily and loss of control,capable fromsexuality,seeminglyfreed frompassivity and revenge,worthy spiritualepitaph and a of philosophicalcontemplation is a soldier'sfuneral; his restoredidentity validated-symbolicallyas well as literally-over Ophelia's grave: "This is I, /Hamlet the Dane" (5.1.257-58). The contrastbetween Ophelia's mad suicide and Hamlet's contemplated one representsin drama the distinction the period was required to make a between calculated suicide (felo-de-se),religioussin and a civilcrime,and insane self-destruction When the act was judged self(non compos mentis). was seized bythe stateand Christianburial murder,the deceased's property was not encouraged.33 Madness, however,rendered suicide innocentand permittedconventionalinheritanceand burial. The secularizationof suicide and that of madness reinforcedeach other. The play enacts these distinctions withoutchoosing sides. Whereas Hamlet's calm contemplation of suicide would render the act on his part a sin (of despair) and a crime(as he recognizes with his reference to the "canon 'gainst self-slaughter" [1.2.132]), Ophelia's suicide is described by Gertrude as accidental ("an envious sliverbroke" [4.7.173]), passive, involuntary, mad. In England in the period, drowningwas the most common means of suicide for women and the cause of death thatmade distinctions betweenaccidentand volition
33Some form of Christianburial mightbe possible, even in cases of suicide; cf. Michael MacDonald, "Ophelia's Maimed Rites," SQ, 37 (1986), 309-17, esp. pp. 314-15. For other discussions of suicide, see Michael MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam (cited in n. 4, above), pp. Medi132-38; "The Inner Side of Wisdom: Suicide in Early Modern England," Psychological cine, 7 (1977), 565-82, esp. pp. 566-67; "The Secularization of Suicide in England 1660111 (May 1986), 52-70; see also Michael MacDonald and Terence R. 1800," Past and Present, Souls: Suicidein EarlyModernEngland (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, forthMurphy,Sleepless coming).

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

327

most difficult.34 The play keeps various possibilitiesin suspension. Gerof trude's representation Ophelia's death neithercondemns it on religious nor explicitly condones it on medical/legal grounds. Instead she grounds as narratesit withoutinterpretation a beautiful,"natural,"ritualof passage and purification, mad body's inevitablereturnto nature: the Her clothes spreadwide, And mermaidlike boreherup, awhilethey of timeshe chanted snatches old lauds, Which of As one incapable herowndistress, Or likea creature native and indued Untothatelement. (11. 175-80)35 Later the issue of Ophelia's death is reopened when the lower-class challenge the "crowner's"warrant gravedigger and the priest skeptically and argue thatitis aristocratic prerogativethatpermitsOphelia's Christian burial. In Macbeth, and involLady Macbeth's suicide has none of the purifying untary aspects of Ophelia's, and its meaning is not interrogated.But it a occurs following stateof gendered alienationrepresentedthroughquoted discourse withsimilarities Ophelia's. The alienationof Lady Macbeth in to is, like Ophelia's, psychologized,represented by means of sleepwalking of associated with quoted speech, read by representatives the community, and it culminatesin suicide. Her breakdownembodsymbolicpurification, ied in sleepwalkingis contrastedwithMacbeth's enraged, bloody, "valiant fury"("Some sayhe's mad" [5.2.13]). But the divisionbetweenher powerful will in the early acts of the play and her alienated loss of it in the sleepand walkingscenes, her connectionswithand dissociationfromthewitches, all theirbifurcatedrepresentation construct-and blur-other distinctions associated withmadness: those between supernaturaland natural agency, diabolic possession and human malevolence. Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking,like Ophelia's madness, occurs after an absence fromthe stage, is presentedas a sharp break withearlier appearances, and is introducedbyan onstage spectator.When sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth quotes, in the formof proverbialcommonplaces ("Hell is murky" [5.1.38]) and chilling pseudo-nurseryrhymes("The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?" [11. 44-45]), her own earlier words (or perhaps and Macbeth's. She refersto Duncan's murder,Banquo's ghost, thoughts) and the death of Lady Macduffall in the mode of advice and comfortto Macbeth ("No more o' that,mylord, no more o' that"[1.46]). She narrates to Macbeth's bloody acts, talksdirectly him although he is not present,and actsout her own complicity "washing"her hands to removethe smelland by of sightof the blood thattaintsthem.This quotation has the effect distancing the discourse from its speaker and invitinga reading. But it is less communal and thematic, more personal and psychologizedthan Ophelia's. reads Lady Macbeth'sstateas religiousdespair, not as The doctor explicitly demonic possession or physicalbreakdown-in Bright'sterms,as spiritual
34 MacDonald, "Ophelia's Maimed Rites,"p. 311, and "Inner Side of Wisdom," p. 567. 35 Immersionis both conventionalto the iconography madness and a traditional of cure for it. Cf. Foucault (cited in n. 10, above), pp. 162, 166; Basil Clarke, MentalDisorder Earlier in Britain:Exploratory Stdie.s (Cardiff:Univ. of Wales Press, 1975), pp. 229-30.

328

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

rather than natural melancholy: "More needs she the divine than the physician"(1. 77). The witchesand Lady Macbeth, as Peter Stallybrasshas argued,36 are witheach other by theirgender, by the structure identified and indirectly to of the play, and by theirparallel roles as catalysts Macbeth's symbolism actions. They functionas culturalscapegoats for the unnaturalness,disorbetweenLady der, and violencelet loose. But the play also impliescontrasts Macbeth and the witches,and these produce disjunctions between the is natural and the supernatural.The witches'supernaturalambiguity conof trastedwiththe "natural"ambiguity Lady Macbeth'ssleepwalkingscene. In their early appearances they are described as ambiguously male or female,as on the earthbut not of it; theyspeak equivocally(but not madly). is of Lady Macbeth,when sleepwalking, in a statethatcombines"thebenefit of sleep" with"the effects watching"(5.1.11-12); "Her eyes are open," "but theirsense are shut" (11. 26-27). The witchesare dramatizedin connection of belief:familiars, withsome of the conventionalaccoutrements witchcraft and submissionto Hecate, spells, potions, fortune-telling, successfulconjuring. In contrastLady Macbeth'sattempted(and unsuccessful)invocation is to spiritsthatseem more naturalthan supernatural:they"tend on mortal thoughts"and "wait on nature's mischief"(1.5.41, 50). She does not ask do, but only for a directlyfor help to harm others as witches typically perversionof her own emotionsand bodilyfunctions:"fillme . . . top-full /Of direstcruelty.Make thickmyblood" (11. 42-43). In contrastthe witches associated to cause the magical kindsof harm to othersconventionally plot with livestock,weather, and male with witches' maleficium:interference sexuality. The witchesare, then,ambiguouslyassociated withand dissociatedfrom is They are Lady Macbeth.37Their own representation likewisebifurcated. ambiguously "natural" and supernatural.They are represented partlyas the disgruntledoutcastsof Scot's Discouerie, partlyas the agents of harmful activitieslike those charged in English witch trials,and partlyas devilin possessed like the witchesdescribed by Continentalwitch-mongers the Malleus Maleficarum 1486). In the opening scenes they seem to invite (c. Scot's psychologicalinterpretation (statistically supported by Alan Macfarto be frustrated, melancholic lane's social,structural theyappear analysis38); women who, on the marginsof society,get back at those who have disrecurses and plottingrevenges-"I'll do, I'll do, garded them by muttering
36 "Macbeth in and witchcraft" Focus on Macbeth, John Russell Brown, ed. (London: Routledge, 1982), pp. 189-209. 37 I see the relationshipbetween the witchesand Lady Macbeth as more ambiguous and unstable than does Janet Adelman ("'Born of Woman': Fantasies of Maternal Power in and the Macbeth"in Cannibals,Witches, Divorce:Estranging Renaissance, Marjorie Garber, ed. [Baltimore:Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987], pp. 90-121). I do not see theirrelationshipas nor do I findthe witchesor Lady Macbeth an "alliance" (pp. 97, 98) eitherliteralor symbolic, malevolentor powerfulas Adelman does. In factthe witcheswish Macbeth to as unstintingly failwhile Lady Macbeth wisheshim to succeed, and theirrelationto the supernaturalis quite fromhers. Both the witches and Lady Macbethlose whatpower theyhave bythe end different of of the play,though Adelman never discussesthe implications Lady Macbeth's somnambulism and suicide. Whateverpower each has existsonly contingently; neitherthe witchesnor Lady Macbeth have agency or controlexcept throughMacbeth. 38 Witchcraft Tudor and Stuart and (London: Routledge, England:A regional comparatlie study n1 1970).

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

329

blame and punishment.Howand I'll do" (1.3.10)-and hence attracting travels,so ever, theydo have familiarsand seem capable of preternatural In are not representedmerelyas social misfits. theirlater appearances (3.5 and 4.1), although their theatricalpower is diminished,the witchesare endowed withall the paraphernalia of demonic possession fromContinental witchlore.They serve Hecate (in what may be a later,non-Shakespearean addition), use illusionto influenceMacbeth,mix a "charm"made from the noxious partsof animals (and humans).39Macbeth "conjures" themby their "profess[ed]" supernatural powers (4.1.50-61). The effectof these of ambigrepresentations an alienated Lady Macbeth and divided witches, connectedwitheach other,is to createa continuumof alienationand uously malevolence in the play, which blurs the boundaries between natural and of supernatural agency, among witchcraft English or Continental sorts, to antisocialbehavior,and madness. This continuumhas made it tempting and ask of the play just as the period (through witchcraft prosecutions throughreading madness) was asking: who is to blame? Who or whatis the and incompatsource of harm and evil?The questions produce conflicting ible answers,as theydid in the period. The continuumof malevolenceblurs the question of agencyin the play as it blurs the question of the ontological statusof "witches."It reproduces the period's "hovering"between contraof and conflicting attributions causalityand agency: dictorybelief systems wivesand ambitious God and the devil,madwomenand witches, castrating tyrants. 4 To understandthecomplicatedresponsesand flexible practicesthatsuch created, and to place Shakespeare's tragediesagainst contemuncertainty at porary attemptsto categorize madness, it is helpful to look briefly the medical practice of Richard Napier and at the 1598 and 1624 Bedlam censuses. Napier was a doctor,a minister, and an astrologerwho from1597 to 1634 treatedabout sixty thousand patientsin Great Linfordin northern Buckinghamshire,taking notes on each consultation.Two thousand and of thirty-nine these patientsfromall social classes consultedhim formental disorders, and these cases are analyzed in the epidemiology of mental Bedlam:Madness, disorder constructedby Michael MacDonald in Mystical and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England.Thanks to MacDonald's Anxiety, superb, detailed, and gendered analysis,Napier's practice becomes a site where definitions, and gender-codingin mental ailmentscan distinctions,
39Thomas, in chapter 14 of his book (citedin n. 14, above), discusseshow Continentalviews of witchcraft, conceived as a heresy marked especially by a pact with the devil, were only into England, where witchcraft defined more usually was filtered graduallyand incompletely in The factthatthe witches Macbeth also called "weirdwomen" (3.1.2) are as harmfulactivities. If and compared with "elves and fairies"(4.1.42) emphasizes their shifting representations. were laterinterpolations, somewhatat odds Hecate and the songs fromMiddleton'sThe Witch with the earlier portrayal of the witches,this strengthensmy claim that the witches are ideas about witches in the period. For ambiguously portrayed, reflectingthe conflicting see The Arden Shakeargumentsthat3.5.39-43 and 4.1.125-32 are interpolations, Macbeth, speare, ed. Kenneth Muir (London: Methuen, 1951), pp. xxxv-xxxviii.That the witchesare more powerfulearlyin the playwhen presentedmore naturalistically also be dramatically may in connected to the weakeningof beliefsin possession and witchcraft England.

330

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

be explored. Like theoristsand playgoers, Napier strove to distinguish between the similar symptomscaused by possession, bewitchment, and mental or physicaldisorders; he worked hard to do so but was often at a loss.40 His cures, designed to fitthe disorder, were eclecticallymagical, and spiritual;to some patientshe gave advice, to most medical,astrological, to a few amulets or prayersor exorcisms. purges, Women consulted Napier for all causes more oftenthan did men (ratio: 78.8 men to 100 women); theyconsulted him more for mental disorders than did men (ratio: 58.2 men to 100 women, similarto that reported in almost twiceas much stressas men England today) and reported suffering (ratio: 52.3 men to 100 women). Most of Napier's femaleand male patients sufferedmental distressand depression fromthe same causes: courtships (23.6 percent), marital problems (17.6 percent),bereavements(17.5 percent), and debt (12.9 percent).4' The reasons whywomen are over-represented in Napier's practice,especiallyin consultationsfor mental distress, are as complex and difficult analyze as why women visitdoctors more to than men do today and report more depression. Then as now it may be connected withtheirvulnerability diseases of the reproductivesystem, to their need thereforeto see doctors more, and the stress that familylife under patriarchy puts on them.42 However, although more women came to Napier with symptomsof mentaldistress, thereis not much difference the percentagesor even the in numbers of men and women identifiedas suffering extreme forms of mental disturbance-i.e., madness. (Similarly,recent findingsby medical historiansand sociologists show thatwhile,today,women see doctorsmore for depression, insomnia,and other imprecisely identified typesof mental distress,they do not sufferfrom extreme pathological states like schizophrenia more often than do men and, contraryto earlier claims, are not more likelythan men to be institutionalized mental disorders.43Macfor
40 MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam,pp. 189-217. John Hall, a successfuldoctorwho practicedat the same time as Napier (1600-1635) in nearbyWarwickshire and who appears to have been more Puritanin his religiousbeliefs,and more of an apothecaryand less of an astrologerthan Napier, treateda similarrange of disorders.Analysisof his casebooks shows thathis patients presented similar symptomsof mental disorder in similar ratios. In his published cases Son-in-law: (included in HarrietJoseph,Shakespeare's [Hamden, JohnHall, Man and Physician Conn.: Archon Books, 1964]), Hall treated 70 men and 109 women; 13 of the men (or 7 and 39 of the women (or 22 percent)showed signsof emotionaldisorder as analyzed percent) in John G. Howells and N. Livia Osborn, "The Incidence of Emotional Disorder in a Medical Practice," MedicalHistory, (1970), 192-98. These figuresare 14 Seventeenth-Century based on only a small sample of Hall's cases, whichwere published to disseminatehis recipes for purges, not to explicate his patients'symptoms. "Emotional disorder" is somewhatmore broadly defined by Howells and Osborn than by MacDonald. 41 MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam,pp. 35-40, 72-75. 42 MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam,pp. 35-40; Tomes (cited in n. 10, above), pp. 145-46. For a discussionof the gender distribution psychiatric of illnessesin twentieth-century London, see Michael Shepherd, Brian Cooper, Alexander Brown, and Graham Kalton,Psychiatric Illnesses in General Practice (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1966), pp. 164-66; forAmericanstatistics, see and diagnosis of women's mental distress essays cited in note 44, below. The self-reporting to depend on a difficult-to-unravel conjunctionof factors includingvulnerability gynecological ailments,women's self-images, of gender-rolesocialization,medicine'sconstruction diseases, the nature of diagnoses, and wider culturaltrends. 43 Tomes, pp. 146-47, and her numerous sources,especiallyNoreen Goldman and Renee Ravid, "Comnmunity Surveys: Sex Differencesin Mental Illness," and Deborah Belle and

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

331

show a similarpattern.Patientswho reportextreme Donald's raw statistics associatedwithmania as opposed to melancholyand symptoms-symptoms designated by terms like "mad," "lunatic," "mania," "frenzy,""raging," "furious,""frantic"-are rare. There are more cases for women in almost every category (because there are more women in the sample), but the identicaland the absolute numbers not that difpercentages are virtually 34 ferent.For example, of the 2,039 patients, of the men (or 5 percent)and 54 of the women (or 4 percent)are designated "mad"; 25 of the men (or 3 percent) and 21 of the women (or 2 percent) as "lunatic."There is 1 man Men are more likelyto be withmania and 7 men and 3 women withfrenzy. or designated melancholy "mopish,"a milderformof melancholy(in accord with the early modern period's male coding of this disease-which is centuries),whereas re-gendered female in the nineteenthand twentieth women more often"take grief,""grieve,"and are more often"troubledin mind"; both men and women are temptedto and attemptsuicide in about equal rates, but women are more often tempted to kill theirchildren or, uniquely,temptedto killeithertheirchildrenor themselves.44 Napier never the fits the motheras mental disturbancebut connects it with of identifies like menstrualcramps. And "sexual urges" are a strictly physicalsymptoms of only one (male) patient.45 symptom In Napier's report of his practice, while women suffermore mental disturbancethan men,the genderingof typesof madness is onlyhintedat, foretold,much less apparent than in such dramas as Hamlet.What stands out is Napier's attemptsto categorize madness, to distinguishit from and fromphysicalmaladies. Another set of docusupernatural visitations ments of the period also shows tentativemovement toward division by gender,but here,too,thereading mustbe cautious. These are the 1598 and 1624 censuses of Bedlam, included in visitationcommittee reports to Bridewell Hospital, whichadministeredthe facility.46 The reportsgive the names of the inhabitants and some of the following data: source of admission (fromBridewell,the lord mayorof London, or privateparties); length of stay(fromNeme Baker, twenty-five yearsin the 1598 census, to Thomas Denham, fourteendays in the 1624 census); source of maintenance(guilds,
Noreen Goldman, "Patternsof Diagnoses Received by Men and Women," both in TheMental Health of Women,Marcia Guttentag,Susan Salasin, and Deborah Belle, eds. (New York: Academic Press, 1980), pp. 31-55, 21-30. 44 Cf. MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam,pp. 243-45. Selected comparisons: Males N % 177 160 257 9 0 37 17 17 24 21 34 1 0 5 2 2 Females N % 287 187 458 31 20 102 29 30 22 15 36 2 2 8 2 2 Totals N % 465 347 717 40 20 139 46 47 23 17 35 2 1 7 2 2

Symptoms Melancholy Mopish Troubled in mind Tempted to killchild Tempted to killchild or self Tempted to killself Attemptedsuicide Suicidal act

45 p. 244. 46 The two Bedlam censuses I cite are reproduced in Allderidge,"Management" (cited in n. 6, above), pp. 152-53, 158-60.

332

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

individuals, parishes, colleges, other hospitals); indicationsof social class and context (in the 1598 census, when such informationwas more frequently noted, inhabitants included "Welch Elizabeth", "Rosse an Almeswoman", "Edmond Browne one of the Queenes Chappell", and "AnthoneyGreene fellowof PenbrookeHall in Cambridge"). Both censuses but the 1598 census is usually list patients with the longest tenure first, divided between admissions from Bridewell and fromelsewhere,and the 1624 census is divided up intomen (18) and women (13), and commentsare made on the seriousnessof the condition (probablybecause even at these small numbers the place was overcrowded,and the committeewished to reduce the numberof thoseconfined).The designationsforthe men speak to to theiradministrative to status;theyare termed"fitt bee kepte,""not fitt bee kept," or to be sent to "some other hospitall,""home to his wife,""to Hull fromwhence hee came." Only two of the men, who are "Idiots," have and none are called "mad." In contrast womenare the theirillnessspecified, characterizedas "veryill,""madd," "verymadd," "a mad woman," explicitly "somethingidle headed," "fellmadd." (Eight of the 18 men are designated fitto be kept and 9 to be sent elsewhere; 7 of the 13 women are to be kept and 4 are to be removed to other care; the dispositionsof 1 man and 1 These no-doubt-unconsciously chosen desigwoman are not specified.47) the nationssuggesta tendencyto identify women withtheirillnessand the men withtheirinstitutional disposition. 5 While the stage does not associate madness more withone class or gender than another, in King Lear, as in the records of Richard Napier and of Bethlehem Hospital, madness and distressare conceived of as treatable illnesseswithmentaland physicalcomponents.By underliningthe distinction between Lear's natural madness and Edgar's feigned supernatural possession and by including two cures, one physical (administeredby a doctor) and one mental (administeredby Edgar, a layperson), the play contributes to the secularization, psychologizing,and medicalization of it. madness and extends conventionsfor representing Edmund, assumes the speech of by Edgar, victimized his bastardbrother, demonic possession as a role-as a disguise.48Quotation in his speech is, in effect, quadrupled. DisinheritedEdgar speaks in thevoice of Poor Tom, the Bedlam beggar, who speaks in the voice of the devil, who quotes Samuel Harsnett'smelodramaticexposure of the drama of bewitchment and exorcism.49Tom's mad speech, like Ophelia's, is made up of quoted, that is
47 The removalof more men of maymerelyindicatethatthe distribution space in the facility of makes the confinement similarnumbersof men and women patientsa convenience; hence more men are designatedremovable.I cannottellwhetherBedlam was sex-segregated some as later asylumswere. 48 This use of madness as disguise derives perhaps from Kyd's Spanish Tragedy and is and The Pilgrim.William C. common in other Jacobean plays, for example The Changeling Carroll, "'The Base Shall Top Th'Legitimate': The Bedlam Beggar and the Role of Edgar in of King Lear," SQ, 38 (1987), 426-41, analyzes the period's identifications Tom o' Bedlams as con men. Whilethismaynot be the onlyPoor Tom stereotype, does add lower-class it feigning, associationswithfeigningat another level to Edgar's role-playing. 49 This is the point developed by Greenblattin "Shakespeare and the Exorcists"(cited in n.

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

333

but and psychologically resonant,fragments, his discourse incorculturally inflected culturalvoices. His speech embeds song fragporates differently ments-"Through the sharp hawthornblows the cold wind"-bits of romance-"But mice and rats,and such small deer, / Have been Tom's food for seven long year"-formulaic commandmentsand proverbialsayings"obey thyparents; keep thyword'sjustice," "Keep thyfootout of brothels, thyhand out of plackets"(3.4.45, 136-37, 79-80, 95-96). These quotations a transmit theologicaldiscourse of sin and punishmentin whichPoor Tom a is an emblematic fallenChristian, "servingman, proud in heartand mind," "hog in sloth,fox in stealth,wolf in greediness,dog in madness" (11.84, 92-93). Embodyingthe seven deadly sins,especiallythoseof pride and lust, he represents,like traditionalmadmen, guilt over and punishmentsfor these sins; he is led by the "foul fiend" "throughfireand throughflame, through ford and whirlpool,o'er bog and quagmire," and "eats the swimand the water" (11.51-52, ming frog,the toad, the todpole, the wall-newt 127-28). It This mad discoursefunctions variously. providesEdgar-as-Tom witha him to express and conceal his coherent characterization permitting by victimization and (it has been argued) his suppressed desire for self-punishment and revenge.50It functionsdramaticallyto trigger,mark, and counterpointthe specificmoment of Lear's own break withsanity,which occurs decisivelyat his emotionallyapt but logicallygroundless identificationwithPoor Tom at line 62: "What,has his daughtersbroughthim to this withthe pass?"51The disguiseallows the disinherited Edgar, by identifying middling or lower sorts and by adopting their speech and beliefs, to participatewiththe Fool and naked Lear in the reversalsof class and status that pervade the play. But always Edgar's quoted religious discourse is both because the discourse is feignedand because it is rendered theatrical, constructedthroughquotation of Samuel Harsnett,who himselfnarrates possession as theatricalrole-playinginstigatedby the suggestion and rehearsal of the exorcists.By appropriatingfor Poor Tom a "documented fraud,"the spuriousnessof Edgar's madness is emphasized, possessionand divine retribution are mocked through mimicry, Lear's contrastingmadness is marked as "natural,"and the Church's attemptto outlaw exorcismis furthered.At the same time, the survivingbelief in possession, perhaps
2 18, above). Kenneth Muir,"Samuel Harsnettand KingLear,"Review English Studies, (1951), of fromHarsnettembedded in the play,manyof them 11-21, findsover fifty separate fragments connected withthe role of Poor Tom. Century Interpretations King Lear 50Janet Adelman, in her introductionto Twentieth of N.J.: PrenticeHall, 1978), pp. 1-21, has a finediscussion of the role and (Englewood Cliffs, and preserve language of Poor Tom and thewaysin whichthisdisguiseallowsEdgar to protect himself.In contrast,William Carroll sees the Poor Tom disguise as a source of pain and for suffering Edgar as well as a release fromthem (p. 436). 51 thismomentand have refused Although my studentshave long been unable to identify Lillian Feder (p. 132 [citedin n. 21, above]) to accept itas markinga decisivebreak withsanity, of and PaulJorgensen (p. 80 [citedin n. 24, above]) concur. The definitiveness Lear's delusion is emphasized by his four-times-repeated claimthatTom's daughtersare to blame forhis state: "Didst thou give all to thydaughters?""What, has his daughters brought him to this pass?" "Now . .. plagues ... lighton thydaughters!""Nothingcould have subdued nature/To such a lowness but his unkind daughters" (3.4.48, 62, 66-67, 69-70). This theatricalmoment manifests one of the places where the boundarybetweensanityand madness was definedand crossed.

334

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

especiallyprevalentamong middleand lowerranks,is representedonstage. I While Greenblattsees theseritualsas "emptied out,"52 would say ratherthat in this mad discourse their sacred meaning is resituated: morality, guilt, and punishmentare understood withinhuman, psychological suffering, parameters. In stark contrastto Edgar's feigned delirium of sin, guilt, and divine enpunishment,Lear's madness is staged as "natural,"as psychologically gendered, and as obsessed withsecular revenge and justice. It is rooted in obvious physical and psychologicalcauses: his exposure to the cold and stormin old age, his mistakenbanishmentof Cordelia, his otherdaughters' betrayals,his encounter with Poor Tom. His alienation is rendered on a continuum with his sanityfrom which it gradually emerges. He is metascene, notes the onset of phoricallydescribed by Kent as "mad" in the first delirium himself,specifieshis malady with medical precision as "hysterica passio"-the fitsof the mother, defined, ingeniously,as his rising heart rather than his wandering womb (2.4.55-56). As he loses control of his childrenand his kingdom,he feels weak, vulnerable,a victimof feminine his But and feminizing hysteria.53 once he is beside himself, madness grows more aggressively satiric.He is restoredto sanity conventionalremedies, by conventionallyapplied by a doctor-herbal medicine, sleep, clean garments,music,and the presence of Cordelia. of The construction Lear's mad discourse,like thatof Ophelia's, involves of formula,depersonalization,the intersection communal fragmentation, and secularized ritual.Like Ophelia, he uses tags of social formulas voices, incongruously:"We'll go to supper i' th' morning,""Give the word," "Pull offmy boots: harder, harder: so" (3.6.83; 4.6.92, 173). But more often, ratherthan being transected quoted voices,Lear envisageshallucinatory by culturaldramas in whichhe is both narratorand participant. Whereas Poor Tom acts out guilt by presentinghimselfas poor and persecuted, Lear defends himselfagainstguiltby actingas prosecutor:"cry/These dreadful summonersgrace" (3.2.58-59). His hallucinationsof the ritualsof secular trial and judgment expose their fraudulence. His scenarios expose civil just as Edgar's Poor Tom role implicitly exposes punishmentas fraudulent demonic punishmentas fraud. In the enacted mock trial (found only in Quarto Lear), Lear plays the judge who will "arraign" (3.6.20) his absent daughters,Goneril and Regan, for theircrimes against him while Edgar, Kent,and the Fool serveasjury. But theritual,likethosein Ophelia's songs, is aborted, and thejudge humiliated,barked at by dogs (11.61-62). withthe During Lear's encounterwithGloucesterin 4.6, his identification can no longerprotecthim; he is givenfantasy scenariosofjustice prosecutor undone by the corruption of female sexualityand the complicityof the Lear asjudge will"pardon thatman's life"because fantasy judge. In his first all are guiltyof copulation centered in the "sulphurous pit" of female
Greenblatt,pp. 117, 119. the Coppelia Kahn, "The Absent Mother in King Lear" in Rewriting Renaissance:The in Discourses Sexual Difference EarlyModernEurope,MargaretW. Ferguson, Maureen Quilliof gan, and NancyJ.Vickers,eds. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986), pp. 33-49, argues that Lear's madness resultsfromhis rage at maternaldeprivationand thatitenables himeventually to accept his own vulnerability. While thisargumentseems partlyvalid, I see both the causes and uses of Lear's madness as more complicated.
53

52

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

335

the confinedin Lear's sexuality, domain to whichthe fiendis metaphorically discourse (4.6.126-29). Whereas Edgar's feigned supernatural madness locateslustin himself-"[I] servedthe lustof mymistress' heart,and did the act of darkness withher" (3.4.85-87)-Lear's natural madness displaces it onto women and theirjudges. In Lear's second fantasy, a following seriesof reversals,the punisher and the punished become indistinguishable:the constablewho whipsthewhore"hotly luststo use her in thatkind"forwhich he whips her (4.6.162). These fantasiessimultaneously expose Lear's own habit of persecutingothers to conceal his own guiltand provide a critique of the operations of a class-determined systemofjustice. Social statusand the costumesthatthe period prescribedto markit controlguilt, judgment, and punishment:"Through tatteredclothessmall vices do appear; /Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, / And the stronglance of strawdoes pierce it" (11. justice hurtlessbreaks; /Arm it in rags, a pygmy's as of 164-67). Withjusticepresented,like thetheater, a matter costumes,its fraudulentnature is revealed. The impertinent madness of Lear, likethatof Edgar and the Fool, serves, as Robert Weimann suggests,to provide satiric"disenchantment" conof servativevalues and hierarchiessupported by those in power: "The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman"(3.4.141). Ophelia's madness, although Weimann does not discussit,functions to similarly disenchantdomesticvalues: she "marks"the falsehood of love, the emptinessof religiousformulas,the and betrayalof men. She narratesthe arbitrariness, instability, corruption of love and the family Lear narratesthose ofjustice and the state.54 as But the theatrical, and psychologizeddiscourse of madness, while fragmented, it allows these critiques,also italicizesand distancesthem. Edgar in disguise not only providescritiqueand counterpointbut is the vehicle of another inversionas he becomes a "philosopher" to King Lear and caretaker for his father,Gloucester. With each, Edgar employs a recommended remedy for delusion and despair, a strategy traditionally that Burton and others record and which Foucault calls "continu[ing] the deliriousdiscourse."55 thisstrategy delusions of the mad are complied In the with and extended through theatricalrepresentationin order to undo
54Weimann uses the range and scope of Hamlet's and Lear's mad the speech to exemplify flexible alternation possible in Renaissance popular theater between the illusionisticlocus naturalistic and the non-illusionistic position,stagingdialogue of the psychologically character, platea position, staging monologue which draws on popular tradition,induces audience and permitssocial critique(Shakespeare thePopular Tradition theTheater: identification, and in Studiesin theSocial Dimension Dramatic Formand Function, Robert Schwartz[Baltimore: ed. of also Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1978], pp. 120-35 and 215-20). This flexibility reveals "the twofoldfunction mimesis of and 'disenchantment'), whichwe have seen to be so ('enchantment' fundamentala partof traditionalpopular drama" (p. 132). More recently, "BifoldAuthority in in Shakespeare's Theatre," SQ, 39 (1988), 401-17, Weimann again uses the "impertinent" language of Hamlet and Lear to definethebifoldauthority generatedbythe language and play space of the Elizabethan theater(pp. 410, 416). This highlyparticularizedformof discourse perhaps cannot stand as the theatricalnorm,but Weimann's analysisdoes get at the combination of individual psychology and culturaldiscourse that I argue characterizesthisspeech. in AlthoughWeimann (curiously)does not discussOphelia's madness,itfunctions manyof the same ways. She too speaks impertinently, she proverbially, bawdily,disturbingly; too is both actressand character,partlyan object of the audience's gaze, partlya spokesperson fortheir contemptforClaudius and his court. Ophelia, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Lear, of "disruptsthe authority order, degree, and decorum" ("Bifold Authority," 417). p. 55 p. 188 (cited in n. 10, above).

336

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

further them.This strategy naturalizesmadness and bringsitunder human to control while testifying the real power of theatricalillusion and the of longstandingawareness of the theatricality madness. Friends frauduextend the delusions of the mad to manipulate them towarda cure. lently The most frequently cited example of thisis a storyof a melancholicman as who,believinghimself dead, refusedto eat. Friendscostumedthemselves of dead men and consumed a banquet in front him to demonstratethatthe dead eat; he thenate too and recovered.A more bizarre example is thatof a man who refusedto urinate,believingthatif he did, he would drown the world; friendsset fireto the house next door and prevailed on him to put it out lestthe townburn. "So he pissed and was by thatmeans preserved."56 involvephysicians friendscuring patientswho or Less ingenious strategies emeticsand complain of toads or snakes in theirbellies by administering when Lear imagines slipping the animals into the vomitbasin. Similarly, himselfbarked at by dogs, Edgar exorcisesthemforhim througha song in which he impersonates a dog (3.6.64-72). Later he more elaborately withhis father's"despair" to "cure" it, engineeringGloucester's "trifle[s]" mock'suicide and the mock exorcismof his (and Edgar's own) demons to save his fatherfromactual suicide. In thisperformanceof possession and exorcism,the ritualsof the supernaturalare appropriated and secularized, and used by humans to reverse human self-alienation just as they are in Renaissance treatiseson melancholy,medicine,exorcism,and witchcraft. 6 Edgar's uses of the illogic of madness in the serviceof logic and sanity, like Feste's claims thathe but readsmadness to exonerate himselffromthe charge of beingmad, demonstratehow the purpose of reading madness, propounding definitions,and prescribingcures is usually to dissociate oneself from the condition and to regulate its disruptiveness.In these Shakespeare tragedies, as in the treatisesand the medical practices,the of a of a representation madness permits restoration normality, restoration in which madmen and madwomen participatedifferently. disguise of The Poor Tom is abandoned, Gloucestereschews suicide, and Lear is returned to sanity.The mad women charactersin tragedy,however,are not cured but eliminated.Ophelia is reabsorbed into culturalnormsby her narrated drowningand her Christianburial. The reportof Lady Macbeth's suicide, abruptlyannounced in the play's finallines, reduces the supernaturalto a simileto vilify and dismissher as a "fiendlike queen, /Who, as 'tisthought, by self and violenthands /Took offher life" (5.8.69-71). Likewise, in the culture, constructionsof madness tended to support in establishedinstitutions preservingthe statusquo. Preferredtreatments not Catholic exorcistsor were those undertaken by Anglican ministers,
56 Clarke (cited in n. 35, above), p. 226, quoting Du Laurens. He describessuch ingenious cures as part of "the folk-lore traditionof the profession"(p. 222). He discusses (pp. 222-23, (trans.Thomas Newton 226) cases cited by Levinus Lemnius in The Touchstone Complexions of [London: Thomas Marsh, 1576], pp. 150v-52r)and by M. Andreas Du Laurens in A Discourse Preservation the Diseases... (trans.RichardSurphlet[London: Felix ofthe of Sight: Melancholike of Kyngston,1599], pp. 100-40). See also Burton (cited in n. 17, above), pp. ii, 114-15, and Jorden (cited in n. 13, above), chap. 7.

"DOCUMENTS

IN MADNESS"

337

not Puritanenthusiasts, licensed practitioners, quacks. These practitioby ners tended to favor outcomes that sustained conventionalsocial hierarchies,and these too had different impactson men and women; Napier, for viewed wiveswho wanted to leave brutalhusbands,childrenwho example, resistedtheirparents,servantswho did not obey theirmasters,as mentally unstable and was severe with them. But the mad could be recuperated because they were not seen as inhuman; hence they were not usually isolated, confined,or ostracized. They mightbe subjected to purges and bleeding (like all ill people), drugged sleep or music therapy,or mightbe coaxed back, throughtheirown delusions,into the ritualsof everydaylife. Such treatments, however,did not yet segregate them fromhuman comthe as did the eighteenthcentury'sinstitutionalization, nineteenth munity or or century'sromanticization century's"moral treatment," the twentieth pharmacologicalnormalization. If the discourse of madness, in the short run, promoted normalization and supported the status quo, in the long run it had the capacity to of contributeto changing constructions the human and hence to cultural establishedin this discourse helped redefinethe change. The distinctions human as a secular subject,cut offfromthe supernaturaland incomprea hensiblyunstableand permeable,containingin itself volatilemix of mind and body, of warring and turbulentelements: "For seeing we are not wee maistersof our owne affections, are like batteredCittieswithout walles, or shippes tossed in the Sea, exposed to all maner of assaultsand daungers, of even to the overthrow our owne bodies."57Such images opened up a new for range of questions about and possibilities human beings. and disseminating The theater,by representing madness,contributedto and its destabilizingpotential. Shakespearean its changing constructions tragedy,drawn to madness perhaps because of its inherenttheatricality, speech thatwas successful(and representedmadness bya conventionalized virtueof itsexcessiveness, richimageryand associations,its its imitated)by verbal inventiveness, multiplefunctions:psychological, its thematic, satiric, theatrical. providinga language formadness,the theatercontributed to By the process whereby it was becoming a secular, medical, and gendered condition. The Elizabethan theater is, at its origin, as C. L. Barber has in suggested, a place apart, a space where the sacred is reconstituted the human,58and madness is, as we have seen, one place where this reconstitution is especially apparent. The secular human characters this stage in gender-and class-specific waysthatthe hierarrepresentsare inevitably or "names of the actors," introduced in sevenchical "dramatis personae" editions, inscribe. Gender distinctionsmay be especially teenth-century rigid because of the absolute divisionbetween adult actors who play men and boy actors who must self-consciously performfemininity, drawing on to do so-as theinstructions the Page in the Induction to gender stereotypes of The TamingoftheShrewsuggest.This may be one reason why madness shows signs of gender-markingsin the theater earlier than in medical treatises or in the visual arts. Even while representingstereotyped or conservativeformations, theatermay participatein change. As Steven the
57Jorden, fol. G2v. 58 WithRichard P. Wheeler, The Whole PowerofDevelopment Journey: Shakespeare's (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), pp. 20 ff.

338

SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY

Mullaney has shown,it is a place apart fromthe establishedstateas well as from the established church, situated in the Liberties alongside unruly brothels,and the emptyleper houses that neighbors:taverns,bearbaitings, Foucault (wrongly)imagines will soon fill up again with madmen.59 By a constructing language throughwhich madness can be represented,the of the the theaterfacilitated circulation the discourse; byitalicizing popular and transformation. language of madness, it encouraged its interrogation Although these Shakespeare plays representmadness as a condition to treat, italicize, or eliminate, and although the gender distinctionsthey of initiatecan stillprove oppressive to women, theirrepresentations madness can be vehiclesforsocial critiqueachieved throughunsettling producHamlet's feignedmadness tionsor indecorous interventions performers. by and Lear's naturalmadness can be performedand read as social critique(as in Grigori Kozintsev's 1970 filmof King Lear or in the Studio Theater of Moscow's 1989 productionof Hamlet).Ophelia's madness can be politicized female body now as an by an actress who mightrepresentthe hysterical eroticizedand aestheticizedobject of desire and repulsion and now as an agent of uncontrollablevoice, desire, pain, and rage (as in AngeMagnetic's "Ophelie Song" [1989], an "opera minimal" derived from Ophelia's songs).60 The complexitiesof reading the discourse of madness in Shakespeare and of thatis, of and his culturereveal the difficulty necessity historicizing: tryingto understand one's own position and that of one's subject(s) in of today'sculturein relationto theconstruction the subject(s)thatemerged in earlymodern culture,of trying tease out disjunctions to and connections. cannot In particularthisprojectrevealsthatthe shape of gender difference be assumed but must always be reformulatedin specific cultural and historicalcontexts. Reading the discourse of madness provides powerful lessons in the gradual and erraticprogress of cultural change and in the interactions between dramatictextsand complex and not fullyretrievable other cultural documents. The theater does not just reflect, contain, or subvertthe culturalrealitiesin whichit is embedded. But findingthe right metaphorforthe relationshipis hard. Perhaps, in the contextof thisessay, it is appropriate to note thatthe playwright, the mad, expresses inner like conflicts, quotes culturalvoices, speaks throughdisguises,enacts emotions for performs diverseaudiences, and is protectedfrom visuallyand verbally, harm because playtexts illusions.These playtexts, are moreover,like other "documents in madness," both do and do not belong to the authors who generate them, and theyare read, performed,and used by others in the serviceof theirown sanity.

Play, and Powerin Renaissance England (Chicago: Univ. of of theStage: License, Chicago Press, 1988), chap. 2; Foucault, pp. 3-7. 60The Studio Theater performed this Hamlet at the Universityof Illinois at Urbanaand Mon Champaign, 12 February1989. "Ophelie Song" was a co-productionbyAngeMagnetic Oncled'Amerique, collaboratedon by French directorAntoine Campo and American choreographer Clara Gibson Maxwell and produced in 1989 in Paris, in New York, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

59 The Place

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful