” What was she but a servant like me? Taking wages and working for them as hard, or harder than I did. You should have seen her shabby clothes, Luke-worn and patched, and darned, and turned and twisted, yet always looking nice upon her, somehow… Why, I’ve seen her come out of the parlor with a few sovereigns and a little silver in her hand, that master had just given her for her quarter’s salary; and now look at her!” ( Braddon 31)
Phoebe is one of the most confusing characters that we have come across so far in the novel. She seems to have this deep seethed loathing towards Lucy, the lady who gave her a better life than the one she had before. In most circumstances, you would think that a maid who has been treated with such kindness, would not have such ill feelings towards her lady. Her admiration towards Lucy and the life she now leads is concealed with a hidden venom. The use of the words “shabby”, “worn”, “patched” and “darned” are used by Phoebe to put an emphasis on how penniless her lady was before she became the Lady of Audley Court. Phoebe wants Luke to truly grasp that she and Lucy were not truly different until Lucy’s luck changed. Phoebe’s tone throughout this passage gives the reader insight into how she feels towards Lucy. As she continues her discussion to Luke about how far Lucy has come she ends her rant with, “now look at her”, by reading this statement and the words that came before it, it is not hard to tell that she is saying it with contempt.
Phoebe dreams of a better life for herself – she has witnessed Lucy come up from nothing and fantasizes about the same kind of future for herself. However, like much of the novel, there is a mystery behind how she plans to gain such fortune and luck. This introduction of Phoebe’s character leaves the readers wondering what she has planned for her lady. Her part in this story will become more than just Lucy’s maid, as she has uncovered one of her lady’s secrets, and intends to use it to propel her life forward. She will be a key asset in the uncovering of Lady Audley’s secret.