“At the end of this avenue there was an old arch and a clock-tower, with a stupid, bewildering clock, which had only one hand; and which jumped straight from one hour to the next, and was therefore always in extremes. Through this arch you walked straight into the gardens of Audley Court” (7).
The description of the broken clock is interesting because it seems to indicate that Audley Court is a world where time is broken, and does not exist in a linear manner, as indicated by the clock always being in “extremes.” Out of all the Audleys, Lucy best demonstrates the notion of “broken time.” Her past is largely unknown to the reader, and even the narrator notes that no one knows her age exactly. She is constantly referred to as “childish,” and exhibits childlike qualities. Braddon hints that Lucy may be Helen in her description of “extreme” time at Audley Court. In Audley Court, Lucy is youthful and childlike, but to the world, where time is not in extremes, perhaps she is “dead,” as Helen is.
The time also distances the residents of Audley Court from the outside world. Time is a humanly concept that governs life. However Audley Court does not possess time in its usual manner. Perhaps this is why Lady Audley comes here to distance herself from her past.
The clock introduces the reader to Audley Court, in that it is directly above the entrance. It is broken and strange much like the Court itself. At first glance Audley Court seems normal, but because of the clock the reader knows that there is something off and that there is something more “extreme” than what is visible to the eye. Since Lucy is the Lady of the Court, the oddity and depth of it is a reflection of her too, and the reader realizes that there is more to her character than the innocent one being portrayed and in light of “extremes” maybe Lucy is more sinister than she appears.