Lady Auley's Suicide

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Gilbert and Gubar describe the stereotypical Victorian "angel" as being beautiful and innocent (Gilbert and Gubar). Lady Audley is seen to share these characteristics, yet she is still declared to be mad in the end. She is a bigamist who attempts murder and ultimately goes against the Victorian beliefs of women being passive and submissive. Moreover, it was believed that women more prone to insanity as compared to men. F. W. Mackenzie’s article, “On the Pathology and Treatment of Puerperal Insanity: Especially in Reference to its Relation to Anemia,” explores the theory that women during the Victorian time period became mad as a result of reproductive instability, which was thought to be inherited by daughters from their mothers (Mackenzie).…show more content…
Dr. Mosgrave pronounces Lady Audley mad simply as a result of Robert’s concern for their family name. He, however, sees her actions more as a “conspiracy” (Bronte), as the crimes were logically thought out, acting on desperation rather than insanity. Despite Lady Audley admitting that she is mad, it is easy to question whether this is only an attempt to excuse her of the crimes she has committed. Braddon criticizes the notion that insanity is the only explanation for women who do not accept the limitations placed on them by a repressive society. Instead of being detained for her crimes, Lady Audley is sent to a maison de santé in Belgium and left to die…show more content…
The question of whether Bertha and Lady Audley are actually mad is somewhat alluded to in the novels. Braddon’s and Bronte’s novels pose the question of what causes one to be declared insane. Both Lady Audley and Bertha go against society’s expectation of the pure and pious woman. It is because they go against these ideals that they are placed into captivity and deemed as being mad. They cannot be contained within the boundaries of proper femininity for they are wild, lustful, and impious, so are therefore are considered a threat and thus need to be constrained by the repressive patriarchal society
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