The Melancholy Character

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:
The Melancholy Character

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This chapter presents Samuel Butler's discussion of melancholy. The work Characters, from which the following sketch of the melancholy man is taken, was written between 1667 and 1669. Butler's volume of characters contains almost 200 different human types he observed in the society about him in Restoration England. As well as the melancholy man, he sketched the Bumpkin or Country Squire, the Hypocritical Man, the Huffing Courtier, the Catholic, the Curious Man, the Proud Man, and the Hypocritical Nonconformist. In this text, melancholy is portrayed both as a normal variation of human personality and as a pathological condition, and no tension seems to attach to this seeming contradiction. In keeping with the tradition of characters, Butler's melancholy man is at times no more than a dispositional type. On the other hand, the melancholy man is said to see visions and hear voices, and he seems incapable of distinguishing accurate from inaccurate perceptual experience.

Keywords: Samuel Butler; melancholy; melancholia; Characters; Restoration England

Chapter.  1302 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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