Ford Madox Ford’s Modernist Trio: A Psychosocial Study of Suicidal Doppelgängers in The Rash Act


As one of the most prolific writers of modernist fiction, Ford Madox Ford shared the period’s fascination with suicide. Despite the complementary relationship between the theme of suicide and the double-motif, a concentrated analysis of its significance in Ford’s portrayal of the modern world in The Rash Act (1933), his work which most directly focuses on the theme of suicide, has not, to date, been conducted. Accordingly, this article presents a systematic examination of the aforementioned relationship in The Rash Act by applying Anthony Giddens’ psychosocial exploration of suicide in “A Typology of Suicide” (1966), which apart from offering an etiological analysis, serves to aptly contextualize the structuring device of suicidal doppelgängers in the modernist milieu of the novel. It will be argued that, through suicide, the protagonist strives to realize his ego-ideal, which is embodied by his double, oblivious to the fact, however, that it ironically entails the annihilation of the identity of the double (ego-ideal) himself, along with the symbolic destruction of the protagonist’s own identity. By expunging the embodiment of the ego-ideal rather than the protagonist’s undesirable ego, suicide thwarts the actualization of the protagonist’s illusory rebirth. The upshot is a trio, in whose liminal space, suicide, the double-motif and the narrative of identity loss correspond to each other’s contradictions and indeterminacy, which mirror Ford’s literary conception of his age.

Author Biographies

Mona Jafari, University of Tehran
Mona Jafari is an early career researcher who recently obtained a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Tehran, Iran. Her research focuses primarily on twentieth-century British and American literature, the Gothic, literary suicidology, (post-)humanism, and parody. Her research articles have been published in the Studies in Horror and the Gothic collection of Springer Nature’s Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies and British and American Studies.
Maryam Soltan Beyad, University of Tehran
Maryam Soltan Beyad is Associate Professor of English Literature and Dean’s Advisor for International Affairs at the University of Tehran, Iran. She has published extensively on Renaissance literature, Gothic and Romantic literature and twentieth-century English literature.


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