It’s a Mad World

In “The Mad Mother” by Wordsworth, the poem depicts a mother who is admittedly on the brink of insanity. Her only saving grace is the purity and love of her baby. Her husband is not attentive, if present at all, and she is considered mad by all those around her. The poem reads with a heavy air of isolation and depression, though every statement about her sun is like a little light of hope. Joseph William Turner’s “Buttermere Lake: A Shower” uses dark and muted colors for most of his painting. The dark theme is not eerie but rather dreary. There is a lone figure in the lake and in one of the further focal points of the piece, the artist utilizes light and depth with a soft arc ascending from around the lake’s bend. I think this painting is a good visual representation for the woman’s dark mentality. I would go as far as to say that the woman may have suffered mental illnesses in this piece. Depression, PTSD, or perhaps schizophrenia (when she speaks of the “wicked faces” and “fire once in [her] brain”) may be involved in her life.The way she speaks about how she was happy once, scorned at other times and has lost much joy by the time her son is born speaks volumes about potential depressive episodes she may have encountered through her life. The discord she suffers through is recurring, enough to have her labeled as mad and inconvenient enough to push others away. The romanticism, I think, is found in the way that this baby is enough to cease the madness, if only for a while. As mental illnesses are still not fully understood to this day, the era in which this was written would have been a strong romanticism thing. Clearly, she is an outcast but the romance theme of it all is strength in solitude, strength as a woman, and the love and emotions of a mother and her child.

-Asia Reyna

3 thoughts on “It’s a Mad World

  1. The idea that the poem speaks on mental illness is very original. I had not considered that before, but now I do see it and I can see how it would be very Romantic to discuss mental illness because it goes against social norms. I think it would strengthen the argument to include how the dreariness of the painting corresponds to how it physically feels when one has a mental illness.
    -Oliver Briggs


  2. The idea that this painting gives a notion of speaking on mental illnesses is something I didn’t consider. its a different way to view this painting with the poem as such. I would recommend using more examples from the poem to strengthen the argument.


  3. I’m glad someone else was able to perceive the darker tones in this painting and refer it back to a representation of mental illness. It’s interesting that you use the meme at the end yet don’t quite connect it. Memes are very much a generation exclusive social conduct, and their darker tone in humor may not be a coincidence. Perhaps expand on this?

    -Daniel R.


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