62 pages 2 hours read

Kate Moore

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2021

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Important Quotes

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“‘If it had been an open enemy who had done it,’ she later wrote, ‘I could have borne it with comparative ease, but it is him, mine acquaintance, my equal, and one whom the world considered my best friend.’ She felt herself reeling from the revelation: ‘[The] man to whom I trusted…myself has proved a traitor.’ She kept calm. Very quickly, she recognized that wailing and railing at the injustice would only add weight to her husband’s claim that she was mad. Ironically, the harder she fought for her freedom, the more likely it was to be lost.”


(Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 27)

Elizabeth Packard had been married to Theophilus Packard for 21 years when he orchestrated for her to be committed to a psychiatric facility; all accounts, Theophilus’s included, reflect that Elizabeth was the epitome of an ideal 19th-century housewife. Although their temperaments and personalities differed, and Elizabeth never felt that the support and affection she tried to show him was reciprocated, she had not anticipated how quickly and callously her husband would plan to rid himself of her. In recognizing from the outset that her reactions to his treatment would be heavily scrutinized by those looking for an excuse to declare her “insane,” Elizabeth developed a cognizance and clarity of her image that she would rely upon in the decades to come.

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“He paused when he saw her standing there, trapped inside by a plan of his own making. Would he beckon to her? Would she join him after all? On the contrary. He took time only to give her ‘one look of satisfied delight.’ ‘Never,’ Elizabeth wrote with tight hurt, ‘had I seen his face more radiant with joy.’ He threw her ‘kisses from the ends of his fingers,’ bowing his ‘happy adieu.’”


(Part 1, Chapter 7, Page 58)

Elizabeth had difficulty accepting that she was going to be left at the “asylum” in Jacksonville, and initially, it appears that she allowed her husband some benefit of the doubt in allowing that perhaps he truly thought her “insane” but was terribly mistaken. This moment, when he looks up at her, staring down at him from the “asylum” window as he returns home without her, the cruel, mocking, triumphant nature of his expression and gestures is shocking to Elizabeth.

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