Dr dangerous […] she has the cunning of madness

 Dr Mosgrave’s comment suggests that Robert
Audley has ascribed the label of madness to Lucy because she has deviated from
the expected prerogatives of female behavior. He reveals that Robert’s judgment
of Lucy endorses a confusion between madness and mental illness. However, Dr
Mosgrove soon undermines this as he validates Robert’s views: “as a
physiologist and as an honest man,” he declares that “Lucy is dangerous …
she has the cunning of madness and the prudence of intelligence” (379). He
thinks that Robert “could do no better service to society than by shutting her
away; for physiology is a lie if the woman he saw ten minutes again is a
woman to be trusted at large” (381). The mental health professional stigmatizes
her as “dangerous” because through her mental dexterity – what he calls “the
prudence of intelligence” – she has failed to complement hegemonic masculinity
in a relationship of subordination. He sends her to an asylum because she has
overridden morality and has violated moral prohibitions for non-moral reasons.

What Victorian morality is taken to refer to is crucial to understand the physician’s
reaction. At its core Victorian morality expects women to display obedience and
to accept men’s authority, even if the latter is coercive and interferes with
their freedom. George Talboys and Lucy’s father who have shirked their
responsibility toward Lucy are not asked to account for their actions whereas
Lucy’s abandonment of her child is counted on the list of her psychopathic
actions. Robert’s comments on George’s actions are shrouded in obscure
rhetoric. He just mentions that George went to Australia to seek fortune in
order to provide for his family upon his return. Because Victorian morality
involves discrimination on the basis of gender, the doctor does not care to
find a further reason than Lucy’s immorality to justify her social ostracism.

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It is no surprise then that Lucy’s ‘madness’ is perceived as a threat and
appropriately neutralized, but rather centers the ‘woman question’ within the
framework of what men deem to be threatening to their morality and
understanding of the world.