1. What is it?

Madness is the losing of one’s mind, in which ‘normal’ thinking is replaced by insanity.

2. How is it made?

A character begins with a sane mind.An event occurs from which stress and mental unravelling begins.
 Society continues, but the ‘lost’ mind struggles to cope.The madness causes erratic, childish, or destructive behaviour.
The madness may cause mania or joy.

3. Examples in literature

by William Shakespeare

Know Your Book

Title: The Tragedy of Macbeth
Author: William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Published: 1606
Language: English
Genre: Drama; play; tragedy
Plot: Macbeth, Thane of Glamis and a war hero, meets three witches who give him a prophecy: he will become Thane of Cawdor, then King of Scotland. After leaving the witches, a messenger informs Macbeth he has been named Thane of Cawdor. Stunned, Macbeth tells his wife about the prophecy. With crazed ambition, she creates a plan to fulfil its second part by killing the king. This soon escalates into killing witnesses, descendants, and all threats. Madness and guilt follows.
Setting: Dunsinane Castle
Characters: Macbeth; Lady Macbeth; Duncan; Malcolm; Macduff; Banquo

Excerpt from Act V, Scene I:

Gentlewoman: Neither to you nor any one; having no witness to
confirm my speech.
[Enter Lady MacBeth, with a taper]
Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise;
and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her; stand close.
Doctor: How came she by that light?
Gentlewoman: Why, it stood by her: she has light by her
continually; ’tis her command.
Doctor: You see, her eyes are open.
Gentlewoman: Ay, but their sense is shut.
Doctor: What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands.
Gentlewoman: It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus
washing her hands: I have known her continue in
this a quarter of an hour.
Lady MacBeth: Yet here’s a spot.
Doctor: Hark! she speaks: I will set down what comes from
her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
Lady MacBeth: Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
Doctor: Do you mark that?
Lady MacBeth: The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?–
What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’
that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
this starting.
Doctor: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.
Gentlewoman: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of
that: heaven knows what she has known.
Lady MacBeth: Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
Doctor: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.
Gentlewoman: I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the
dignity of the whole body.
Doctor: Well, well, well,–
Gentlewoman: Pray God it be, sir.
Doctor: This disease is beyond my practise: yet I have known
those which have walked in their sleep who have died
holily in their beds.
Lady MacBeth: Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so
pale.–I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he
cannot come out on’s grave.
Doctor: Even so?
Lady MacBeth: To bed, to bed! there’s knocking at the gate:
come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s
done cannot be undone.–To bed, to bed, to bed!

Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension

1. What is Lady MacBeth doing in this scene?
2. Which of the people watching Lady MacBeth has seen her acting in this way before?
3. Who is dead? 
Identifying Techniques

4. Rhetorical questions are a frequent part of Lady MacBeth’s speech. Underline the rhetorical questions.
5. What method of persuasion (ethos, logos, pathos) is used to make MacBeth a tragedy? 
Text Analysis

6. Based on Lady MacBeth’s words, to whom is she talking?
7. Which words, phrases or actions tell the audience that Lady MacBeth is haunted by an action from her past? How is it shown to be a madness based on a memory?
8. Which two senses does Lady MacBeth’s madness affect in this scene?
9. Which lines in the scene show Lady MacBeth unwittingly telling others of the crime in which she was involved?
10. How do the Gentlewoman and Doctor react to Lady MacBeth? Does this change through the scene?  
Theme Exploration

11. How does Shakespeare create the idea of madness in Lady MacBeth? How is her madness a standout point in the scene? 
Provoking Opinion

12. Lady MacBeth is driven mad by guilt. Do you think madness is a realistic reaction to guilt caused by committing a crime?
13. MacBeth is an example of guilt being as much a punishment as the law. Which do you think is a more powerful punishment?
14. Superstitiously, mentioning the word ‘MacBeth’ brings bad luck to actors (it is therefore referred to as ‘The Scottish Play’). Do you know any other creative works that are linked to luck or superstition?

A Streetcar Named Desire 
by Tennessee Williams

Know Your Book

Title: A Streetcar Named Desire
Author: Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Published: 1947
Language: English
Genre: Drama; play; Southern Gothic
Plot: Blanche DuBois, a former southern belle, has fallen on hard times. She moves to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. The couple are not rich, and Stanley resents Blanche’s condescending attitude that she is above this lifestyle. A fight between Stella and Stanley briefly looks like reuniting the sisters, but stories soon emerge from Blanche’s past. It is apparent she has long been living a fantasy, her mental health destroyed by her loss of status.
Setting: New Orleans
Characters: Blanche DuBois; Stella DuBois; Stanley Kowalski; Mitch

Excerpt from Scene 11:

Eunice: What a pretty blue jacket.
Stella: It’s lilac colored.
Blanche: You’re both mistaken. It’s Delia Robbia blue. The blue of the robe in the old Madonna pictures. Are these grapes washed?
[She fingers the bunch of grapes which Eunice had brought in.] 
Eunice: Huh?
Blanche: Washed, I said. Are they washed?
Eunice: They’re from the French Market.
Blanche: That doesn’t mean they’ve been washed. [The cathedral bells chime] Those cathedral bells–they’re the only clean thing in the Quarter. Well, I’m going now. I’m ready to go.
Eunice [whispering]: She’s going to walk out before they get here.
Stella: Wait, Blanche.
Blanche: I don’t want to pass in front of those men.
Eunice: Then wait’ll the game breaks up.
Stella: Sit down and…
[Blanche turns weakly, hesitantly about. She lets them push her into a chair.]
Blanche: I can smell the sea air. The rest of my time I’m going to spend on the sea. And when I die, I’m going to die on the sea. You know what I shall die of? [She plucks a grape] I shall die of eating an unwashed grape one day out on the ocean. I will die–with my hand in the hand of some nice-looking ship’s doctor, a very young one with a small blond mustache and a big silver watch. “Poor lady,” they’ll say, “the quinine did her no good. That unwashed grape has transported her soul to heaven.” [The cathedral chimes are heard] And I’ll be buried at sea sewn up in a clean white sack and dropped overboard–at noon–in the blaze of summer–and into an ocean as blue as [Chimes again] my first lover’s eyes!
[A Doctor and a Matron have appeared around the corner of the building and climbed the steps to the porch. The gravity of their profession is exaggerated–the unmistakable aura of the state institution with its cynical detachment. The Doctor rings the doorbell. The murmur of the game is interrupted.]
Eunice [whispering to Stella]: That must be them.
[Stella presses her fists to her lips.] 
Blanche [rising slowly]: What is it?
Eunice [affectedly casual]: Excuse me while I see who’s at the door.
Stella: Yes.
[Eunice goes into the kitchen.]
Blanche [tensely]: I wonder if it’s for me.
[A whispered colloquy takes place at the door.]
Eunice [returning, brightly]: Someone is calling for Blanche.
Blanche: It is for me, then! [She looks fearfully from one to the other and then to the portieres. The “Varsouviana” faintly plays] Is it the gentleman I was expecting from Dallas?
Eunice: I think it is, Blanche.
Blanche: I’m not quite ready.

1. What is happening in this scene?

a) Stella and Blanche are being reunited
b) Blanche is about to be taken to a mental hospital
c) The women are playing cards
d) The group are having lunch
e) The women are attending church

2. Blanche’s words suggest she

a) doesn’t trust Stella’s intentions
b) knows her mind is not well
c) believes she is going to Dallas
d) wants to die
e) mixes fantasy with reality

3. As well as her madness, Blanche displays

a) snobbery and delusions of grandeur
b) bitterness towards her peers
c) arrogance about her popularity
d) egotistical showmanship
e) a desire for revenge

4. Eunice and Stella’s actions imply a degree of

a) sadism
b) irritation
c) hatred
d) hope
e) guilt

5. Both Lady MacBeth and Blanche DeBois could be said to be suffering from

a) hypochondria
b) psychosis
c) ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
d) OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
e) CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)