Charles Dickens and Asylums

In class on Tuesday we briefly talked about Asylums in England, and after a little searching I came across this article in Household Words in which Dickens expresses his views on mental illness and institutions for the insane. The article is titled “The Star of Bethlehem” and it recounts the history of the St. Mary of Bethlehem hospital in London that housed the insane and mentally ill. Dickens describes the hospital as a foul, wretched place, and in general he holds very progressive views as the article calls for institutional reform in order to make the living conditions at least tolerable for the patients. Something I found particularly interesting was that if one were so inclined, they could pay a small fee and “tour” the hospital, and I couldn’t help but think of what a great idea this would be for a first date! Anyways, the article is only a couple pages long and I encourage everyone to read it as I think it is very relevant to Wilkie Collins’ novel that we are reading in class!

Household Words \”The Star of Bethlehem\”


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