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

Author

Postgraduate student studying in Beijing International Studies University

10.22034/jhi.2020.115265

Abstract

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.

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