"Are you suffering?"
- To EmilyDr. Montmorency Stockill is head physician of The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls and the novel's main antagonist.
Dr. Stockill is the oldest child and only son of Madame Mournington. In one of his mother's letters to her sister Augusta he is described as having been cruel to animals as a child, experimenting with chemicals on both small mammals and insects.
It is unknown when or where he was educated, but at one point, likely in early adulthood, he assumed the position of head physician and director of the asylum, possibly having inherited the practice from his late father.
In the Asylum
Dr. Stockill considers himself a savior to the weaker sex, as evidenced by a plaque under his portrait in the Asylum's entrance hall, and his practice at the forefront of medical science. In reality he is little more than a sadist, designing toxic concoctions for the inmates and personally doing away with them in the most brutal manner out of nothing but his hatred of all women, his mother excluded. To secure the hospital's finances, he supplies hospitals and off-site laboratories with cadavers, body parts, organs and even aborted fetuses harvested from inmates dead and alive. He also experiments on the many rats of the asylum to create a strain of bubonic plague, a cure for which only he has access to.
Perhaps due to his obsession with the character Ophelia of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, he takes a personal interest in Emily. Despite finding her "filthy" and obstinate, and having no qualms murdering her friends, he is curious about her and her resilience to his torment, even after she is transferred to Ward B. He makes her a main attraction of his Ophelia Gallery, and later, poster girl for the prostitution ring he sets up with help from surgeons Lymer and Greavesly.
In the meantime Dr. Stockill has fallen under some scrutiny by the public eye as many vultures have been seen circling above the Asylum's grounds. When Thomson, the photographer he hires to photograph the merchandise of the prostitution ring, as well as the Royal Lunacy Board threatens to blow the whistle on his inhumane practices, he has the former promptly murdered. To combat the issue of bodies stacking up, he installs a crematorium in the Asylum's cellar, the first victim of which is Christelle, the French girl.
His mother returns from ver visit to Aunt Augusta, and while searching for her son in his laboratory she happens upon the body of a murdered inmate, likely Christelle. Upon her smelling the cyanide on the girl and realizing the truth of the good doctor's deeds, Dr. Stockill is disowned by his mother, who proceeds to commit suicide. Distraught by this, he heads up into the main floors of the asylum. He bumps into Emily in the entrance hall and they have a scuffle over the key his mother gave her before her death. He manages to take the key from her before tossing her back into the crowd of inmates and Plague Rats. Unbeknownst to him, however, Anne's Master Key to Bainbridge takes the form of the Asylum Key, effectively sealing his doom.
The next morning, during the Tea Party Massacre, he confronts Emily for the last time. She manages to trade barbs with him long enough for the Plague Rats to sneak up on and overwhelm him. After being fatally stabbed by Emily, he is eaten alive by the rats before he can succumb to his wounds. The rest of him is disposed of in the crematorium he himself commissioned, and his house of pain turned into a sanctuary for the now liberated inmates.
Personality and appearance
Dr. Stockill is described by Emily as being clean-shaven, with dark, wavy hair, black eyes and rather handsome, but thin with a brooding countenance, and also having a disdainful attitude about him.
Dr. Stockill's hatred of women is the driving force behind everything he does. It is implied throughout the book that he murdered his younger sister, and he confirms this later on, that he poisoned her with cyanide out of jealousy. Despite the lifetime of misery his mother suffered as a result, he never shows any remorse over it, even after she disowns him and kills herself. He seems quite incapable of empathy and therefore treats the women and girls of the asylum accordingly. He is tenacious and his black heart set on domination of the city, and perhaps also the world, with the disease he is designing. He does however have a rather large circle of dubious friends in high places, likely because he generously supplies them with victims for their amusement, and seems to enjoy his mother's company.