Mary Lamb Criticism - Essay

Jane Aaron (essay date September 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aaron, Jane. “‘On Needle-Work’: Protest and Contradiction in Mary Lamb's Essay.” Prose Studies 10, no. 2 (September 1987): 159-77.

[In the following essay, Aaron examines the political and socio-psychological elements apparent in “On Needle-Work,” arguing that despite the restraint evident in the work, it is a valuable document of social criticism.]

On 22 September 1796 Mary Lamb, in a sudden outbreak of violent mania, brought about the death of her mother. According to a contemporary newspaper account of the incident, while preparing a meal that day,

the young lady seized a case knife laying on the table, and in...

(The entire section is 9508 words.)

Jean I. Marsden (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Marsden, Jean I. “Shakespeare for Girls: Mary Lamb and Tales from Shakespeare.Children's Literature: Annual of the Modern Language Association Division on Children 17 (1989): 47-63.

[In the following essay, Marsden maintains that Mary Lamb played a significant role in the "gender-based division (and revision)” evident in the female-focused Tales from Shakespeare.]

On September 21, 1796, in a fit of madness, Mary Lamb picked up a knife and fatally stabbed her mother. Mary recovered and spent the remainder of her long life looking after her brother Charles and writing children's books, including the popular Tales from Shakespeare (1807)....

(The entire section is 7165 words.)

Jane Aaron (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aaron, Jane. “‘Double Singleness’: Gender Role Mergence in the Autobiographical Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb.” In Revealing Lives: Autobiography, Biography, and Gender, edited by Susan Groag Bell and Marilyn Yalom, pp. 29-41. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Aaron considers the influence of Charles and Mary Lamb's familial relationship on the feminine persona and lack of authoritative tone in their joint writings.]

In May 1833 an Edmonton schoolmistress noticed that her neighbours, the Waldens, had acquired two new lodgers; as Mr. Walden, formerly an asylum keeper, let lodgings to the mentally ill, “the...

(The entire section is 5783 words.)

Jean I. Marsden (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Marsden, Jean I. “Letters on a Tombstone: Mothers and Literacy in Mary Lamb's Mrs. Leicester's School.Children's Literature: Annual of the Modern Language Association Division on Children 23 (1995): 31-44.

[In the following essay, Marsden discussesMrs. Leicester's School, arguing that Lamb's relationship with her mother influenced the lack of a stereotypical maternal figure apparent in other similar works.]

The gift of education represented so vividly in Maria Edgeworth's “Madame de Fleury” stands in contrast to a more problematic vision of education published within a year of Edgeworth's work. In Edgeworth's tale, unlike the work by...

(The entire section is 5734 words.)

Meaghan H. Dobson (essay date January 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dobson, Meaghan H. “(Re)considering Mary Lamb: Imagination and Memory in Mrs. Leicester's School.Charles Lamb Bulletin 93 (January 1996): 12-21.

[In the following essay, Dobson separates the different techniques used by Mary and Charles Lamb to criticize patriarchal authority, focusing on the contributions each made to Mrs. Leicester's School.]

In the rare critical essay which examines Mary Lamb's writing, the critic often draws Mary back in under her brother Charles' shadow, coming to a conclusion similar to Pamela Woof's on Mary and on Dorothy Wordsworth: ‘Both Mary and Dorothy survived their brothers; they valued each other as friends, the...

(The entire section is 6182 words.)

Donelle R. Ruwe (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ruwe, Donelle R. “Benevolent Brothers and Supervising Mothers: Ideology in the Children's Verses of Mary and Charles Lamb and Charlotte Smith.” Children's Literature: Annual of the Modern Language Association Division on Children 25 (1997): 87-115.

[In the following essay, Ruwe argues that Mary and Charles Lamb use the depiction of siblings in Poetry for Children to expose patriarchal influence in poetry, while Charlotte Smith's representation of siblings argues for a removal of this patriarchal authority.]

We can assert two indisputable truths: one is that there were not mere dozens, nor even hundreds, but actually thousands,...

(The entire section is 11848 words.)

Bonnie Woodbery (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Woodbery, Bonnie. “The Silence of the Lambs: Anti-Maniachal Regimes in the Writings of Mary Lamb.” Women's Writing 5, no. 3, (1998): 289-303.

[In the following essay, Woodbery maintains that Mary Lamb's works reveal information on contemporary treatment of the mentally ill.]

This article examines Mary Lamb's poems and her short tale “The Young Mahometan” for what they reveal about Lamb's experience of madhouse confinements. I suggest that in her works for children, Lamb articulates an idiom of the body as it both reflects and resists what was often a brutal silencing of the mad body in early nineteenth-century madhouses. Roy Porter is correct in his...

(The entire section is 8071 words.)

Darlene Ciraulo (essay date fall 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ciraulo, Darlene. “Fairy Magic and the Female Imagination: Mary Lamb's ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream.’” Philological Quarterly 78, no. 4 (fall 1999): 439-53.

[In the following essay, Ciraulo contends that Mary Lamb's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” exhibits her view of pedagogy and interest in developing good judgement in women, focusing on her use of fairies as comic characters as opposed to allegorical representations of the imagination.]

During the period between 1806 and 1809, Mary and Charles Lamb coauthored children's literature for William Godwin's Juvenile Library. Tales from Shakespear, designed for the use of Young Persons was issued in...

(The entire section is 5419 words.)

Bonnie Woodbery (essay date autumn 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Woodbery, Bonnie. “The Mad Body as the Text of Culture in the Writings of Mary Lamb.” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 39, no. 4 (autumn 1999): 659-74.

[In the following essay, Woodbery considers Lamb's depiction of the maternal role and of children, maintaining that her writing, as social criticism, provided an outlet for her mental illness.]

The Mary Lamb who was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” has not received much purchase in the Lamb biographies or literary criticism to date. That this should be so is understandable. The silence that surrounded the facts of Lamb's madness until after she died in 1847 was partially grounded in what...

(The entire section is 6945 words.)

Adriana Craciun (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Craciun, Adriana. “The Subject of Violence: Mary Lamb, Femme Fatale.” In Romanticism and Women Poets: Opening the Doors of Reception, edited by Harriet K. Linkin and Stephen C. Behrendt, pp. 46-70. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999.

[In the following essay, Craciun analyzes the violent and aggressive nature of Lamb's works and of her matricide amid a discussion of the interpretation of violence in female literature.]

Would a woman be able to hold us (or, as they say, “enthrall” us) if we did not consider it quite possible that under certain circumstances she could wield a dagger (any kind of dagger) against us?...

(The entire section is 11104 words.)