Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Lucy Graham or Helen?

“No more dependence, no more drudgery, no more humiliations… every trace of the old life melted away- every clue to identity buried and forgotten- except these, except these.” (pg. 17)

The immediate detail that stands is the repetition of “except these.” The phrase is almost dreamlike, and appears as though Lucy in some kind of trance, reflecting back on whatever “these” signify. This suggests that “these” are monuments, but that there is a kind of nostalgia to them, instead of a pressing anxiety. However, it curious as to why Lucy keeps an item that can trace her back to the dependence, drudgery and humiliation at such a close arm’s length. It is almost as if she secretly wants someone to discover what she is hiding.

The inclusion of the word dependence is interesting as well, as Lucy is, in fact, completely dependent upon Michael Audley now. She may not be dependent upon the help of random strangers, but her new life is all thanks to someone else. This suggests that Lucy may not be thinking exactly clearly about what life married to someone for money will be like, and could be foreshadowing. Perhaps she eventually grows tired of being Michael’s shadow and prized possession, and wants her own spotlight. Either way, her inclusion of the word dependence showcases her naivety.

Another possible foreshadowing is through the phrase “identity buried and forgotten,” as it seems possible that Lucy Graham is, in fact, Helen. Helen at least seems to be physically buried in the ground, and so Lucy choosing to describe her identity as also buried seems to mirror that ideal.

This quote ultimately brings about several questions, such as who was Lucy Graham and what made her past life so awful, but it also gives several hints. She is nostalgic about the past life, even though she recounts it as though it was terrible, she is naïve and desperate to marry someone wealthy, and she hints at that the possibility that her identity is not just metaphorically buried, but also physically. I am excited to read further and see if these truly are instances of foreshadowing.

1 Comment

  1. theladydothprotest

    September 6, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    I like your choice to analyze this line. To me, this sentence (and portion of the book, for that matter), was like a slap in the face that there’s something else going on besides what we, the readers, think we “know.” It’s my personal opinion that “these” are Lady Audley’s charms that hang on her ribbon necklace. I agree with you that Lucy is now dependent on Mr. Audley, and that as you say, “her new life is all thanks to someone else.” I’m also really glad for your analysis of “identity buried and forgotten;” although I have to say, I have a certain feeling that Lucy is not quite as naïve as she seems, and that would be the reason for all her secrets.

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