Listening to the Gaoler's Daughter

Kendra Preston Leonard


In this essay, I explore the concept of madness in relation to the Gaoler's Daughter in Two Noble Kinsmen. By examining her supposed madness in the context of music and disordered vocality expressed through song; in light of the idea that one might talk oneself out of the suffering of emotional trauma to wellness; and in terms of her social class, I offer a new interpretation of the character’s behavior with the framework that her music is not mad, but rather an early-modern kind of mixtape, or specifically ordered collection of songs, that she uses both as a means of communication with others and as a device to work through her emotions and find resolution to her situation.


Shakespeare; Two Noble Kinsmen; mental illness; madness; music; song; vocality; sexuality; women; love-sickness; melancholia; psychology

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