Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Motives for marrying Sir Michael…?

““No more dependence, no more drudgery, no more humiliations,” she said; “every trace of the old life melted away – every clue to identity buried and forgotten — except these, except these”” (Braddon 17).

I found this sentence most strange because it shows Lucy’s main motive for marrying Sir Michael is not out of love or to be rich, but rather to escape her “old life.” Escaping from something and erasing it implies that it has a negative association. However, it then opens up the questions of, what is Lucy escaping from? Why does she want her “old life melted away?” It’s also interesting that these are her thoughts contemplating if she should marry Sir Michael or not because they’re all aimed towards finding safety in a sheltered nest. Since Lucy uses words such as, “every trace” and “every clue” it is apparent that she has something to hide from her “old life.” Therefore, it seems as if Lucy wants to find safety from her secret past. By marrying Sir Michael she would find safety from whatever she is running from or escaping by taking on his name. Therefore she would have a new literal identity. Lucy Graham would become Lady Audley. Lucy even stated that herself as a reason to marry Sir Michael—“identity buried and forgotten.” She then goes on to say, “except these, except these.” Which brings up the question of what is she talking about? What are these things? Why are they so important to keep if they could risk her identity and secret?

This sentence is related to the whole of the novel so far in that the words “every trace” “every clue” and “identity buried and forgotten” suggest that there is something suspicious about Lucy’s behavior. Her exterior is seen as “lovely and innocent” (Braddon 13) whereas her interior, which is expressed in this sentence, is more complex and dishonest.

5 Comments

  1. I agree that it seems like Lady Audley is doing her best to escape her previous life. Another quote that applies to this is the idea is on page 55, where it refers to Lady Audley as the “late Miss Lucy Graham” and proceeds to describe how she spends most of her days playing and being “surrounded by new and costly toys”. This quote is similar in that both of them imply that she has a completely new identity – in regards to her name, position in society, and her financial situation in life. Everything about Lady Audley’s life is the opposite of how poorly she once lived.

  2. I found what you said about Lucy’s motive to marry Michael is actually to escape her old life. I had not considered this interpretation before, and I think it makes a lot of sense. Especially given that in Victorian culture women were considered the property of her husband, so for her to marry a man of such social standing as Sir Michael; she would be able to erase her past easily and become Lady Audley.

  3. I agree to your statement that marriage is considered a means of disguising who herself is to Lucy. I also want to suggest that marriage can be an extended form of escaping, since Lucy migrating to become a maid at the Dawson’s also can be regarded as the first, or the original step she may have planned for the escape. As she repeats the act of transferring herself to other environments, the chances are getting low that the past she want to hide may be revealed. Also, I think that the fact that the mistress who recommended Lucy to Dawson’s said to be very ill may indicate that the presence of the mistress, who may be the only source of information of Lucy’s former life, may not deserve much belief from the readers.

  4. I agree to your statement that marriage is considered a means of disguising who herself is to Lucy. I also want to suggest that marriage can be an extended form of escaping, since Lucy migrating to become a maid at the Dawson’s also can be regarded as the first, or the original step she may have planned for the escape. As she repeats the act of transferring herself to other environments, the chances are getting low that the past she want to hide may be revealed. Also, I think that the fact that the mistress who recommended Lucy to Dawson’s said to be very ill may indicate that the presence of the mistress, who may be the only source of information of Lucy’s former life, may not deserve much belief from the readers.

  5. I agree that Lucy’s motives are often very mysterious and questionable. Even Michael Audley struggled to believe that Lucy would ever want to marry him, and yet she proceeded to do so. The quote you start off with is very interesting, and I had not looked too much into it before. Yet, it truly does reveal how little we know of Lucy’s character, yet almost reveals a dark, sinister past that she is desperate to escape from. Lucy’s ultra sweet facade is very intriguing, and I’m curious to know what darkness she is hiding from.

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