Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Animal Instinct About Lady Audley

“Lady Audley happened to enter the room at this very moment, and the animal cowered down by the side of his mistress with a suppressed growl. There was something in the manner of the dog which was, if anything, more indicative of terror than of fury, incredible as it appears that Caesar should be frightened of so fragile a creature as Lucy Audley” (Braddon, 107).

 

This passage continues to reveal that Lady Audley’s true personality might not be the one she outwardly portrays to others.  The words, “cowered,” “terror,” and “frightened” (Braddon, 107) are all used to contrast and question the reaction of Alicia’s Newfoundland, Caesar, with Lady Audley’s “fragile” (Braddon, 107) persona. This juxtaposition of the aura Lady Audley gives off and the appearance she wishes to convey to others, raises questions of whether or not Lady Audley is genuine in her being. Lady Audley was previously described as having “the innocence and candour of an infant” (Braddon, 55) which makes  it strange that an animal should be fearful of a person as “fragile a creature as Lucy Audley” (Braddon, 107). The binary of sincerity vs. façade is once again brought up. This passage further reveals that Lady Audley is not as innocent as she wants people to believe. Caesar is “terror[ified]” when she enters the room after previously “roll[ing] his eyes” (Braddon, 107) and appearing calm. It was only after Lady Audley’s entrance that his personality changed. It is unknown what specifically sparks the change in the dog, but the reader can infer that the presence of Lady Audley has caused a disturbance. Dogs are often said to be a good judge of character, which makes the reader even more skeptical of this scenario. In the next chapter, Robert Audley also mentions “a change!” (Braddon, 121) that Lady Audley has brought about. As the novel progresses, readers continue to see the responses of and to Lady Audley that seem odd and out of place. This adds to the question of who Lady Audley actually is and what is her secret?

1 Comment

  1. When I first read this passage, I also highlighted it because it seems to reveal so much about the book’s protagonist without overtly stating it. I completely agree with your interpretation of the dog being the only (or at least one of few) beings that actually see through the façade which Lady Audley constructed around herself. In my opinion, the façade is also a good title for one end of your binary because it somehow implies the fact that the visible surface may hide something entirely different beneath it. Just like Harcourt Talboys is likened to a building in chapter four of Volume II, this creates a similar image of Lady Audley – who is definitely hiding something at this point.

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