Benito Cereno - Leigh-Anne's Question
Cereno's apparent mental illness is given much attention when Captain Delano first boards the Spanish vessel: "His mind appeared unstrung, if not still more seriously affected." (2410) Delano attributes his "suddenly pausing, starting, or staring, flushing, paling, twitching his beard, distempered spirit", fits of near fainitng, etc. as owing to having been "chained to one dull round of command". Is it so easy to write off his decayed mental state to simple stagnation or is there a deeper force at work here? What sort of social stigma would mental illness, or the appearance thereof, have raised in Melville's contemporary audiences?
(Sorry this is late - computer was down and had to find an alternate)