This article addresses how mental illness and psychiatry are dealt with in fictional narrative. The starting point is Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre. The characterisation of madness in that novel provides the basis for exploring how the physical and psychological differences of mentally ill people are portrayed, and how violence and the institutional care of people with mental illnesses are depicted. It is also argued that the fact that in Jane Eyre, Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic, is rendered voiceless is not accidental but emblematic of the depiction of mentally ill people in fiction. A number of novels are used to illustrate these issues.