Male mourning and melancholia: grief as pathology and paralysis in 'Dombey and Son'

Goodman, H (2014) Male mourning and melancholia: grief as pathology and paralysis in 'Dombey and Son'. In: Commission on Science and Literature First Annual Conference, 10 - 11 July 2014, Hellenic Institute, Athens, Greece.

Abstract

In 1810, William Black, physician to Bedlam, drew up a list of the causes of insanity. Grief was by far the most common problem, accounting for 206 of the cases included in the study, with the next most prevalent, family and heredity, standing at 115. While the latter field has received a great deal of attention, particularly regarding female madness in sensation fiction, grief and male madness remains a relatively neglected field. This paper examines representations of the psychological effects of child immortality in the light of recent studies of Victorian fatherhood by Valerie Sanders and others. Revising conceptions of Victorian displays of grief, and contrary to John Kucich’s contention that Victorians ‘relished’ death, it demonstrates that in much early Victorian writing, public rituals merely veiled the private work of mourning within the home, which, when characterised by extreme individualism and stasis, proved a fertile ground for the pathologisation of grief as insanity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: grief, bereavement, Dickens, Dombey and Son, fatherhood, insanity, mourning, funerals, Victorian culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 15:01
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2018 15:01
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)