Mental illness in literature. Seeing and recognizing mental illness in Conrad’s ‘The Idiots’, Poe’s ‘The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether’ and Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night
ForfatterLarsen, Marianne Sagen
Abstract The central theme in ‘The Idiots’ by Joseph Conrad, ‘The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether’ by Edgar Allen Poe and Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald is mental illness. These texts demonstrate mental illness through genetically inherited insanity, doctor patient relationship and self-perception of mental illness in that they all explore the thin line between sanity and lunacy. This thesis uses Lillian Feder’s book Madness in Literature, Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization and theories by Freud as the main theoretical framework. Expressions of mental illness in Conrad, Poe and Scott Fitzgerald’s text are discussed in connection to Feder, Foucault and Freud’s theories. The focal point of this analysis is to show how mental illness is presented through interpreting language, point of view and characters by drawing examples of these and analyzing them. This thesis discusses a didactic presentation of how to teach ‘mental illness’, and ‘The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether’ as a source to mental illness in literature, in Norwegian upper secondary schools. The didactic chapter presents a teaching plan in accordance to competence aims and general aims. Mental illness has been a taboo-topic but pupils experience mental illness through series, films, blogs and social media. It is important to show that mental diseases are difficult to see and teach them that people with mental illnesses often are discriminated against. The topic teaches how to create tolerance and understanding, how to work with a literary text, analyzing literature and developing vocabulary. The theme is relevant for the pupils’ understanding of mental illness as a concealed form of illness, as well as literature as a form of expression and source of comfort. The didactic work promotes teaching based on the Poe’s short story in accordance with competence aims and regulations stated in the Knowledge Promotion Reform 2013 and the English Subject Curriculum 2013. The didactic teaching plan promotes the use of basic reading and writing skills, reading strategies and development of vocabulary.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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