An Interpretation of Sarah’s Madness in The French Lieutenant’s Woman from the Perspective of Michel Foucault’s Theories about Madness

Document Type : Original Article


English Language Literature and Culture Department, Beijing International Studies University, No.1 Dingfuzhuang Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing City, China



The French lieutenant’s Woman is a novel by the English writer John Fowles, which has had a wide and lasting influence in the world since its publication. In the novel, the image “the mad woman” Sarah, almost throughout the book, is one of the important clues of the novel. In his work Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault, a famous French philosopher and sociologist in the 20th century, elaborates that madness has entered “a completely moral universe” and presents four forms. By means of Foucault’s theoretical interpretation of four types of madness, this paper aims to analyze and interpret the madness shown by the “mad woman” Sarah. In the novel, indirectly, Sarah’s madness is actually a fusion of four forms of madness that Foucault refers to, a kind of protest against the repression and confinement from the Victorian social “moral machines” towards humanity, and a long hard way of her seeking freedom.


Volume 04, Issue 03
September 2020
Pages 136-139
  • Receive Date: 15 July 2020
  • Revise Date: 06 August 2020
  • Accept Date: 28 August 2020
  • First Publish Date: 01 September 2020