"There is sex in mind" : scientific determinism and the woman question in Lady Audley's Secret

Title: "There is sex in mind" : scientific determinism and the woman question in Lady Audley's Secret
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2012, vol. 38, iss. 1, pp. [87]-102
Extent
[87]-102
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
License: Not specified license
 

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Abstract(s)
My contention in this paper is that in Lady Audley's Secret Elizabeth Braddon is critical of the nineteenth-century theories of cerebral and biological determinism in relation to the question of female madness. I argue in the first part that Braddon pinpoints phrenology – the study of the faculties of the mind from the conformation of the skull – as one of the institutionalized sciences that provided a materialistic underpinning and a further incentive to masculine hegemony. After I outline the basic tenets of the theory I shall argue that as a subject of phrenological analysis, the madwoman is treated in ways that reproduce Victorian gender-normative stereotypes. In the second part I shall demonstrate that marriage is denounced as an institution that bolsters the hegemonic machine.