Study Guide

Spellbound Madness

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In Spellbound, madness is separated from sanity very clearly. Constance is sane, Ballantyne isn't—until he's cured and then he's sane too. The doctors are all right the patients aren't, and that's that. Except for the part where Dr. Murchison has a mental breakdown and is actually a murderer. And the part where Constance suddenly falls in love with an amnesiac and risks her job and her life for him—how sane is that?

Ballantyne's mental illness doesn't seem so different from the supposedly sane folks around him. He's got the diagnosis, but everyone else still behaves strangely—either because human nature is strange, or because Hollywood is.

Questions About Madness

  1. Is Dr. Murchison mentally ill when he commits his murder? When he commits suicide? Explain your answers.
  2. Is love a kind of delusion in Spellbound? Explain your answer.
  3. Is the dream in Spellbound an example of mental illness? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Psychoanalysis can cure mental illness in Spellbound.

It's love, not psychoanalysis, that cures mental illness in Spellbound.

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