Consequential Madness: Gender and Power in Romantic-Period Madhouse Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century literary texts that depict the madhouse as a Gothic space in which individuals are pushed to the limits of what they can bear. In the language of William Battie’s 1758 Treatise on Madness, it is “Consequential” rather than “Original” madness that is of interest in such works: disorders that occur in response to a trauma. This group of texts exploits the terrible irony of the potential for that external cause to be the madhouse itself. In doing so, they hit a cultural raw nerve centring on the unjust confinement of women and demonstrate how easily madness could be defined as behaviour that disrupted gendered hierarchies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife, Death, and Consciousness in the Long Nineteenth Century
EditorsLucy Cogan, Michelle O'Connell
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-13362-6
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Sept 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine


  • Madhouses
  • Gothic
  • Medical Humanities
  • Romantic-period literature

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