Acting the Part of a Madman: Insanity and the Stage

  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert


In the sixth book of Tom Jones, Squire Western, being suddenly made aware of the true relationship between Tom and his daughter Sophia, and realising that he has himself just sent Tom for a private interview with her, sets off ‘like one Thunder-struck’ and with ‘a round Volley of Oaths and Imprecations’ for the apartment where they will be. Fielding describes Tom and Sophia’s state of impending shock. It is as when ‘two Doves, or two Wood-pigeons, or as when Strephon and Phillis’ are rudely interrupted by ‘hoarse Thunder’ bursting ‘through the shattered Clouds’:

Or as when two Gentlemen, Strangers to the wondrous Wit of the Place, are cracking a Bottle together at some Inn or Tavern at Salisbury, if the great Dowdy who acts the Part of a Madman, as well as some of his Setters-on do that of a Fool, should rattle his Chains, and dreadfully hum forth the grumbling Catch along the Gallery; the frighted Strangers stand aghast, scared at the horrid Sound, they seek some Place of Shelter from the approaching Danger, and if the well-barred Windows did admit their Exit, would venture their Necks to escape the threatning Fury now coming upon them. (I, 300–1)


Eighteenth Century Cultural Construction Holy Ghost Modern Poet Sixth Book 
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© Allan Ingram 2005

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  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert

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