- Sep 2017
The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination is a 1979 book by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in which Gilbert and Gubar examine Victorian literature from a feminist perspective. Gilbert and Gubar draw their title from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, in which Rochester's wife (née Bertha Mason) is kept secretly locked in an attic apartment by her husband. Context provided by Wikipedia
Jane Eyre: "In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure run backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not... tell: it groveled, seemingly on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face."
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, New York, 1960, p.295
Erëmirë's comment: The dwelling of Bertha Mason's madness is the attic, the dark nonproductive space of her mind, a space commonly inhabited by spiders and their webs. Both Bertha and Arachne have been removed from the sphere of power, demonized and rendered marginal. The pairing of Arachne and Bertha is not accidental, Arachne's art of weaving was qualified as nonproductive because it told stories that contested larger narratives produced by gods [such as the rape of Europe], while Bertha Mason the not-quite-human-Other, the white Jamaican Creole who is not-yet-European, she destabilizes the narrative of white Europe. So, removing the distance between her and animality - discursively - is easier than bringing her closer to europeaness.