Madness and the city
The collapse of reason and sanity in Alan Moore’s From Hell
in Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition
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This chapter proposes a reading of Alan Moore's retelling of the 1888 Whitechapel murders in relation to its treatment and representation of madness. The principal argument of this analysis is that in From Hell the Ripper murders embody the collapse of logos at the end of the nineteenth century. Thus they expose the rise of a problematic anxiety about modernity. In doing so, the nature and context of the crimes point to the uncanny pervasiveness of insanity within the city. As pathologies of the mind constitute a significant strand in Gothic literature from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Rebecca, so the reason/madness opposition underpins Moore's complex retelling of the murders. From Hell engages with the shifting boundaries of madness and reason and exposes the precarious foundations of normative ideology supporting definitions of mental sanity on many levels.


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