“Furious Passions of the Celtic Race”: Ireland, Madness and Wilkie Collins’s Blind Love
Unlike Dickens, who uses caricatured figures for comic or bizarre effect, Wilkie Collins explores the inner psyches of his mental deviants, examining what it means to be cast as “other” and relegated to the margins of society in Victorian England. Indeed, a number of Wilkie Collins works offer lively and provocative engagements with Victorian discourses of insanity, but it is Collins’s final novel Blind Love that breaks out from the confines of the asylum to explore the ways in which madness operates not only as a psycho-medical malady, but as a political malady as well. This chapter considers how Blind Love engages implicitly with contemporary debates and theories on the nature of insanity, particularly through the figure of the highly unstable Lord Harry. Collins also psycho-sexualizes Anglo-Irish relations by placing Iris Henley in a problematic relationship with the wild and rebellious Lord Harry, the epitome of the militant Irish nationalist.