Drive me mad!

shop-englishx

Banned
Urdu
Hello, my friends,

What is the meaning of the bold part here?

Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!

Source: "Wuthering Heights" (A novel by Emily Brontë)

Thank you very much
 
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    "Drive me mad" is very, very common. It's even common in AmE, where we don't very often use mad to mean "insane." The overall structure of the sentence is a bit unusual, but only because it uses dashes in places where we'd ordinarily use end punctuation, probably to sound more like speech and less like writing.
     

    shop-englishx

    Banned
    Urdu
    Kate, can you please tell me how and where would you use this expression? In what situation - who would be saying it to whom?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The only odd thing is that this is an imperative.

    We don't usually order someone else to drive us insane. Heathcliff, in his desperation, says that he's willing for the ghost of dead Cathy to do anything, even drive him insane, if only she would come back to him.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I agree - and that's an excellent point, velisarius. But the words themselves aren't odd at all: "That woman will drive me mad!" "If I have to hear that song one more time, it will drive me mad!" "Are you trying to drive me mad?"
     
    Last edited:

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I never hear "mad" used to mean "insane" in current, colloquial AE. It feels very dated in the US. I would expect to find it in early 20th century film or book.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I hear it much more often as crazy: "You're driving me crazy!"

    To which my usual response is "That's not a drive - it's a putt!"
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I agree with jmichaelm and RM1(SS). I don't know of any set expressions in American English that use "mad" to mean "crazy." I'm familiar with "drive me crazy," "drive me insane," "drive me up a wall," and others, but I don't think I've ever come across "drive me mad" in American English.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Yes, of course "drive me crazy," etc., are far more common in AmE. But I would be startled if you really, really never hear "drive me mad" in AmE. In fact, I'm going to just come right out and say that you must have heard it, elroy. I just googled it and it's all over the place. It's in an article on parenting on the Huffington Post (the headline says "My Kids Drive Me Crazy" but she says they drive her "mad" in the article). It's used in the headline of blog post on running - "7 running myths that drive me mad" written by a writer who says she comes from Wisconsin. It's a line in a Kenny Chesney song, for goodness' sake (and in fact I found it in several lyrics, at least some of which were definitely AmE).

    Mad is used to mean "insane" in AmE, though not that often. Of course it's not nearly as common as "crazy," "insane" or "nuts." It's used, I would say, mostly for emphasis. But it is used, and not all that rarely either, so to say you've "never" come across it...I'm sorry, but I just find that very difficult to believe. Sorry! :confused:
     
    I agree with jmichaelm and RM1(SS). I don't know of any set expressions in American English that use "mad" to mean "crazy." I'm familiar with "drive me crazy," "drive me insane," "drive me up a wall," and others, but I don't think I've ever come across "drive me mad" in American English.

    Well, I certainly have come across it in modern American English, and I am known to use it myself. The terms "madman" and "madwoman" are also completely common in American English, and if the "mad" in "madman" doesn't mean "crazy", then just what is it supposed to mean?
     

    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The Steve Miller song "Jungle Love" comes to mind.

    Jungle love, it's drivin' me mad
    It's makin' me crazy
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Americans will know what you mean if you say "driving me mad", but it's uncommon enough to call attention to itself.

    Also, I was particularly referring to conversational English. There are a lot of places in literary or lyrical contexts where "mad" is a better fit. These titles are all perfectly understood by an American audience:
    • "Mad Money"
    • "Mad Men"
    • "Mad Max"
     
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