September 30th, 2014

Information on Victorian-era psychology of women?

I'm not sure that my question is appropriate for the community, but I sure hope it is, as I'm struggling with it and pretty desperate to find answers in the form of resources.

I'm a theatre major and have to complete a project for my senior seminar class. My professor wants all of us to adapt some kind of text into a performance. I've chosen a few very similar historical fiction novels to adapt. We need to have a theme or something specific about our texts that we want to explore in our performances. My theme is how women were treated during this time period, especially when it came to "abnormal" behavior, female hysteria, and insanity. I'm looking into exploring how some women wound up in insane asylums. I'm definitely taking a feminist approach to my adaptation and want to portray the poor treatment of women who did not abide by societal norms during this time.

So I've been trying to track down medical or psychological texts written during the Victorian era that would help me understand how Victorians felt the female mind worked. I'd also like to include excerpts in my adaptation. What I've found so far are modern explanations of how Victorians felt about certain behaviors in women. I've Googled various things, such as "female hysteria Victorian era," "Victorian psychology of women," and so on and so forth. I've scoured my school's library. Everything has been written in the past 50 or so years.

I really just want something that was written 100-150 years ago and attempts to explain the female mind. I know there are things out there that refer to women as the weaker sex in both body and mind, I just can't manage to find anything that I could use for my adaptation. :(

I know this question is long and complicated. I just hope there is such a thing that I'm looking for out there and is accessible.

Thank you!