It has been claimed that madness is a “female malady”. This claim has been supported by the fact that women are statistically overrepresented among the mentally ill, as a consequence of their social situation, their limited and confining roles as daughters, wives and mothers, as well as their mistreatment by a male dominated psychiatric profession. Madness has been considered one of the inevitable liabilities, resulting both from female nature and nurture. In contrast, males have been regarded all but immune against madness due to their alleged rationality. Aim of this thesis is to study the literary representation of madness, at three distinct points in time, among white, middle-class women in America. Three essentially different literary works of North American literature serve as the basis for my discussion. They are being examined in light of the general perception of mental illness in the eras in which they were written. Even though the texts are very different from one another, they have in common that they are all written by and about white-middle class women in North America. This thesis aims to display the historical perceptions and changes of female psychology throughout three distinct time periods in American history, as these periods are represented in the individual texts. In addition, I should like to explore the common thread among the three time periods’ attitudes towards female madness. I also want to show how the individual stories reflect women’s social history at these times, and to what extend each case of madness described in the texts is related to the social environment of the affected person, as opposed to resulting from organic disease. My approach will be to explore the significance of socially relevant themes such as marriage, motherhood, sexuality and male-female power relations, within the context of these writings, and to uncover to what extent each of the authors reflects and criticizes society’s views on the role of women in general and female madness in particular. In this context, it will be necessary to evaluate behavioral patterns that are both time and gender specific, and to gain a deeper knowledge of developments in psychiatry. This thesis explores what the contemporary ideas about the three protagonists’ cases of madness were and compares this with modern-day knowledge of mental illness. Other aspects I will be looking at are the stylistic literary tools used in the presentations of female madness. In form of a “Madwoman”, literary critic Elaine Showalter points out, literary figures often constitute the “author’s double”. By means of this double, the author lives out her desire to escape male oppression. Confinement also serves as a metaphor for the oppression in all three texts, while the fact that all texts are first-person-narratives makes a claim to authenticity.