Madness In Madwoman In The Attic

1777 Words8 Pages
The question of feminine insanity and madness within literature has been a topic of much debate within literary studies, particularly among those scholars who focus on feminist readings of the texts in question. Many of these new readings and analyses are based on or heavily rely on the influential work of Gilbert and Gubar, who focused on the issue of female madness within Victorian fiction in their work The Madwoman in the Attic. As they posit in their work, female authors of the time were confined to only two models of femaleness within their works, either the pure angel or the untamed madwoman. Here they also introduce the idea of the double, which harkens back to the dark doppelgänger from the gothic tradition. As they explain in the preface…show more content…
336). With the many similarities and allusions du Maurier makes to Brontë’s work, Rebecca lends itself particularly well for this feminist reading as well. As was explored above, the readers’ only way to gather more information about Rebecca, her deviant sexual proclivities, and madness is through the unreliable narration from residents of Manderley as well as the novel’s editorial protagonist. As was suggested by both Williams and Pons, the narrator uses her editorial position to further distance herself from the madness of her predecessor by highlighting her own naiveté and upholding the norms of patriarchy and passive femininity. To keep her position as both Maxim’s living wife and the narrator to the tale, the unnamed heroine had to adhere to these norms to avoid being marginalized in the way that Rebecca seemingly is. This section will explore the idea of the dark double in relations to Rebecca and the unnamed protagonist as well as the issue of identification and…show more content…
Danvers is her indiscriminate, promiscuous, and powerful way of approaching female sexuality. Because of the mystery that surrounds her, Rebecca is framed as openly sexual, particularly when compared to the pure and repressed heroine. As Petersen explains in “Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: The Shadow and the Substance” that ““Rebecca’s search for identity— her being elaborately associated with the uncanny, the covert, the taboo— takes popular romance through the darkly Gothic and into the domain of modern understandings of the sexual” (61). As Mrs. Danvers explains to the
Open Document