Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

A Costly Morality: Dependency Care and Mental Difference in the Novels of the Brontë Sisters

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2010), 4, (1), 55–72.

Abstract

The article investigates four fictional accounts of the complications involved in providing dependency care for one with a compromised mind—difficulties the authors knew well due to their father's decision to keep his alcohol- and opium-addicted son Branwell at home instead of institutionalizing him. Charlotte and Anne create fictional heroes who struggle to compassionately manage individuals dealing with drug addiction, mental illness, and cognitive disability, while Emily indicts the domestic sphere in the creation of such conditions.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Andrews, Jonathan, Asa Briggs, Roy Porter, Penny Tucker, and Keir Waddington. The History of Bethlem. London: Routledge, 1997. The History of Bethlem Google Scholar

Barker, Juliet. The Brontës. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1994. The Brontës Google Scholar

Brontë, Anne. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. 1848. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1992. Google Scholar

Brontë, Branwell. The Brontës: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence. 1933. Vols. I and II. Ed. T. J. Wise and J. A. Symington. Philadelphia, PA: Porcupine P, 1980. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1969. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. The Letters of Charlotte Brontë. Ed. Margaret Smith. Vol. I: 1829–1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1995. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. Villette. 1853. Ed. Mark Lilly. London: Penguin, 1979. Google Scholar

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. Ed. William M. Sale, Jr. and Richard J. Dunn. 3rd edn. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. Google Scholar

Cobbe, Frances Power. "Wife-torture in England." 1878. Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors: Victorian Writing by Women on Women. Ed. Susan Hamilton. Ontario: Broadview P, 1995. 132–171. "Wife-torture in England." 1878 Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors: Victorian Writing by Women on Women 132 171 Google Scholar

Coleman, Lerita M. "Stigma: An Enigma Demystified." The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 141–152. Stigma: An Enigma Demystified The Disability Studies Reader 141 152 Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body. London: Verso, 1995. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. 1961. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage, 1988. Google Scholar

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. "A Dialogue of Self and Soul: Jane Eyre." The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. 1979. 2nd edn. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2000. 336–371. Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. "Selections from Stigma." The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 131–140. Selections from Stigma The Disability Studies Reader 131 140 Google Scholar

Gordon, Lyndall. Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life. New York: Norton, 1994. Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life Google Scholar

Kittay, Eva F. "When Caring Is Just and Justice Is Caring: Justice and Mental Retardation." The Subject of Care: Feminist Perspectives on Dependency. Ed. Eva F. Kittay and Ellen K. Feder. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. 2002. CNPII, 257–276. Google Scholar

Marchbanks, Paul. "From Caricature to Character: The Intellectually Disabled in Dickens's Novels (Part Three)." Dickens Quarterly 23.3 (2006): 169–180. From Caricature to Character: The Intellectually Disabled in Dickens's Novels (Part Three) Dickens Quarterly 23 169 180 Google Scholar

Masters, Anthony. Bedlam. London: Michael Joseph, 1977. Bedlam Google Scholar

"The Philosophy of the Insane." Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country. 25.149 (May 1842): 553–571. Google Scholar

Preston, A. H. "John Greenwood and the Brontës." Brontë Society Transactions. Vol. XII. Part 61. 35–38. Google Scholar

Schwartz, Nina. "No Place like Home: The Logic of the Supplement in Jane Eyre." Jane Eyre: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Beth Newman. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 549–564. No Place like Home: The Logic of the Supplement in Jane Eyre Jane Eyre: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism 549 564 Google Scholar

Smith, Margaret. Introduction and notes to The Letters of Charlotte Brontë. Vol. I: 1829–1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1995. Google Scholar

Smith, Margaret. Notes to Jane Eyre. New York: Oxford World Classics, 2000. Notes to Jane Eyre Google Scholar

United States. Institute of Medicine. Dispelling the Myths about Addiction. Washington, DC: National Academy P, 1997. Google Scholar

Wright, David. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847–1901. Oxford: Clarendon P, 2001. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847–1901 Google Scholar

Zieger, Susan. Inventing the Addict: Drugs, Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2008. Inventing the Addict: Drugs, Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature Google Scholar

Andrews, Jonathan, Asa Briggs, Roy Porter, Penny Tucker, and Keir Waddington. The History of Bethlem. London: Routledge, 1997. The History of Bethlem Google Scholar

Barker, Juliet. The Brontës. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1994. The Brontës Google Scholar

Brontë, Anne. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. 1848. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1992. Google Scholar

Brontë, Branwell. The Brontës: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence. 1933. Vols. I and II. Ed. T. J. Wise and J. A. Symington. Philadelphia, PA: Porcupine P, 1980. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1969. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. The Letters of Charlotte Brontë. Ed. Margaret Smith. Vol. I: 1829–1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1995. Google Scholar

Brontë, Charlotte. Villette. 1853. Ed. Mark Lilly. London: Penguin, 1979. Google Scholar

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. Ed. William M. Sale, Jr. and Richard J. Dunn. 3rd edn. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. Google Scholar

Cobbe, Frances Power. "Wife-torture in England." 1878. Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors: Victorian Writing by Women on Women. Ed. Susan Hamilton. Ontario: Broadview P, 1995. 132–171. "Wife-torture in England." 1878 Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors: Victorian Writing by Women on Women 132 171 Google Scholar

Coleman, Lerita M. "Stigma: An Enigma Demystified." The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 141–152. Stigma: An Enigma Demystified The Disability Studies Reader 141 152 Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body. London: Verso, 1995. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. 1961. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage, 1988. Google Scholar

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. "A Dialogue of Self and Soul: Jane Eyre." The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. 1979. 2nd edn. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2000. 336–371. Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. "Selections from Stigma." The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 131–140. Selections from Stigma The Disability Studies Reader 131 140 Google Scholar

Gordon, Lyndall. Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life. New York: Norton, 1994. Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life Google Scholar

Kittay, Eva F. "When Caring Is Just and Justice Is Caring: Justice and Mental Retardation." The Subject of Care: Feminist Perspectives on Dependency. Ed. Eva F. Kittay and Ellen K. Feder. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. 2002. CNPII, 257–276. Google Scholar

Marchbanks, Paul. "From Caricature to Character: The Intellectually Disabled in Dickens's Novels (Part Three)." Dickens Quarterly 23.3 (2006): 169–180. From Caricature to Character: The Intellectually Disabled in Dickens's Novels (Part Three) Dickens Quarterly 23 169 180 Google Scholar

Masters, Anthony. Bedlam. London: Michael Joseph, 1977. Bedlam Google Scholar

"The Philosophy of the Insane." Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country. 25.149 (May 1842): 553–571. Google Scholar

Preston, A. H. "John Greenwood and the Brontës." Brontë Society Transactions. Vol. XII. Part 61. 35–38. Google Scholar

Schwartz, Nina. "No Place like Home: The Logic of the Supplement in Jane Eyre." Jane Eyre: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Beth Newman. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 549–564. No Place like Home: The Logic of the Supplement in Jane Eyre Jane Eyre: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism 549 564 Google Scholar

Smith, Margaret. Introduction and notes to The Letters of Charlotte Brontë. Vol. I: 1829–1847. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1995. Google Scholar

Smith, Margaret. Notes to Jane Eyre. New York: Oxford World Classics, 2000. Notes to Jane Eyre Google Scholar

United States. Institute of Medicine. Dispelling the Myths about Addiction. Washington, DC: National Academy P, 1997. Google Scholar

Wright, David. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847–1901. Oxford: Clarendon P, 2001. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847–1901 Google Scholar

Zieger, Susan. Inventing the Addict: Drugs, Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2008. Inventing the Addict: Drugs, Race, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Literature Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Marchbanks, Paul