Asylum, by Francisco de Goya, after 1794
Asylum, by Francisco de Goya, after 1794.
This haunting image is one of several Goya made of mental asylums. The conditions in pre-modern asylums were horrific; the very suggestion of "Bedlam" (from London's Bethlem Mental Hospital) in Lear not only implies madness, but particularly deprived circumstances. The notion of "madness" or being "out" of one's mind is a theme of many works in the second semester of LitHum; what exactly does this mean, and why have we not encountered it before--or, if we have, in what ways is madness depicted differently in different texts?
Image and data provided by Columbia University.