Sederi Yearbook 24

Sederi 24
Sederi 24 — 2014
Berta Cano Echevarría & Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco J. Borge López
ISSN 1135-7789


Sandra Clark, “Women, class, and the language of madness in early modern English drama.” SEDERI 24 (2014): 7-26.


DOI:                                                     Download PDF



This paper discusses the depiction of madwomen in a range of early modern English plays including some by Shakespeare in order to show how their madness operates at the intersection of gender, genre, and social class. Its particular focus is on language, and it argues that the speech styles of madwomen are essentially similar whatever their social class. For women, madness is a linguistically liberating condition, bringing together high and low cultural discourses. While stage madwomen’s language has similarities with that of madmen, it is more licentious and transgressive because the violation of social and behavioural norms is more extreme.

Keywords: Madness; language; nonsense; transgression; taboo; impertinency; popular tradition; ballads; gender; liberation; imagination; sexuality.




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