Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kameelah Martin Samuel

Second Advisor

Dr. Tanya Caldwell

Third Advisor

Dr. Pearl McHaney


Madness in women exists as a trope within the literature from the earliest of civilizations. This theme is evident and appears to possess a link with male dysfunction in several of Toni Morrison’s texts. Lack of maternal accountability has long served as a symptom of female mental instability as imposed by patriarchal thought. Mothers who have neglected or harmed their young across cultures and time periods have been forcibly branded with the mark of madness. Female characters in five of Morrison’s novels bear a striking resemblance to the female archetypes of ancient Greece. This paper will demonstrate the kindred strands of prescribed female madness in the women of the myths of ancient Greece and Morrison’s characters as it relates to neglectful mothering and male flight.