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What the Butler Saw Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 67 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of What the Butler Saw.
This section contains 1,674 words
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Themes

Madness, Psychiatry, and Authority

Orton prefaces What the Butler Saw with a quotation from The Revenger's Tragedy: "Surely we're all mad people, and they/Whom we think are, are not." The perception of madness and, consequently, who is mad, is central to Orton's play. In the twentieth century, it is given to psychiatrists to answer this question. Although many may question psychiatric methods, it is nonetheless the case that psychiatrists have been given the legal authority to determine who is mad and, consequently, to commit those so diagnosed to psychiatric hospitals, to force them to take medications, and even to submit to electroshock therapy.

In recent years, safeguards against abuse of these powers have become strong; committing a patient to a psychiatric hospital requires clear evidence that he or she is a danger to themselves or others, and involuntary electroshock is used only in the most extreme cases. In...

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This section contains 1,674 words
(approx. 6 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our What the Butler Saw Study Guide
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What the Butler Saw from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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