The Mad Man in the Attic: Playing with Gendered Literary Identity as Object and Muse in Iris Murdoch's The Good Apprentice and The Message to the Planet.

Emma Miller


Within The Good Apprentice and The Message to the Planet, Iris Murdoch appears to be consciously manipulating both Harold Bloom’s Anxiety of Influence, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s feminist response to Bloom, The Madwoman in the Attic, in order to challenge both her readership’s presuppositions on madness in general, and more specifically how the depiction of madness in literature can be seen to relate to sexuality, religion and gender. Bloom writes that modern authors (specifically male authors) are concerned about their ability to resist the influences of their literary forefathers in order to achieve an original work of their own, with no mention of how a female author might be challenged to create in response to such a male dominated literary past. Bloom relates his theory to Freud’s Oedipus complex and the male child’s desire to overthrow his father in order to establish his own supremacy. The Madwoman in the Attic looks at Bloom’s argument from a female viewpoint, with readings of a number of female authors in the nineteenth century examining how it was impossible for them to follow Bloom’s theory and identify with the authors who have superseded them in order to respond with their own creations.

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ISSN 1749-9771

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