Septimus Madness Analysis

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Part of Septimus’s madness is in his attempt to communicate: “They were alone. He began to talk aloud, answering people, arguing, laughing, crying, getting very excited and making her write things down” (Woolf 58). Septimus believes he has value in his thoughts but cannot articulate them, therefore he makes Lucrezia interpret his actions to make sense of his ideas. Again, readers are invited, along with Lucrezia, to participate in interpretation of this actions to make meaning (Zunshine 850). Actions such as “laughing” and “crying” alone can express emotional states like sadness or happiness that readers can identify with individually. However, a plethora of conjoined incompatible emotions can be understood by readers as indicative of madness or schizophrenia because of his “answering people” when “they were alone”. Likewise, it is abnormal in common social interactions also further suggested by dominant narrators. Zunshine’s claim that “any additional information […] would alert us to new shades in its meaning” explores reader bias as not “wrong” (Zunshine 851). Rather, it explores how readers’ pre-existing ideas and beliefs can help with meaning-making that resonates with the reader. Readers with knowledge of experience of PTSD symptoms can derive a more accurate interpretation of Septimus’s mental state. Although attributing personal thoughts and beliefs to people’s actions can lead to misinterpreting, the misinterpretation is not “wrong” (Zunshine 850). If readers

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