Full image caption
A Rake's Progress: Plate 8. Engraving. A scene set in a madhouse. It is probably Bethlem Hospital, nicknamed Bedlam. The hospital was opened in London in 1247 and was the first institution to be dedicated to the mentally ill. During the 18th century, the causes of mental illness were not well understood. Some wealthy people kept the mentally handicapped or mad as objects of entertainment. People paid to visit Bedlam to be amused by the unruly behaviour of the patients. The two elegant young women in this image have come to view the inmates. The Rake's fiancee tries to help him as he lies in chains.
© Museum of London