In the Middle Ages, lunatics were sent away onto “ships of fools”. A major change took place in the early modern period: lunatics were to be confined in asylums. This initiated the process that Foucault termed “the Great Confinement”.
Madness, however, was not hidden from “normal” people. On the one hand, the London asylum of Bedlam daily opened its doors to visitors. On the other hand, some playwrights included scenes that took place in a fictional asylum, thus displaying madmen’s behaviors and speeches, and thus holding a mirror up to society.
Focusing on a couple of plays like The Changeling and The Duchess of Malfi, this talk will explore how and why the asylum and its inmates were represented on the Jacobean stage.
Alumni, Lectures, Arts, Center for the Humanities, Global, Alumni Association