Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Similarities Between Phoebe and Lucy

“Phoebe Marks, you have told this man!” The girl fell on her knees at my lady’s feet. “Oh, forgive me, forgive me!” she cried. “He forced it from me, or I would never, never have told!” (Page 113).


By chapter fourteen there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Lucy Audley may be Helen and that this secret is looming over her new life. In chapter fourteen we learn about a number of characters who might have knowledge of this secret. Because Alicia wants nothing to do with Lucy, Lucy ends up spending time with Phoebe. Phoebe has a fiancee named Luke. She has acquired him a job as a servant.


When Lucy meets him she doesn’t think much of him. Lucy is upset that she will be losing Phoebe as a maid to someone she feels is rather rude and boorish. Phoebe explains that she doesn’t love him. She first says she is still engaged to him because she fears him explaining that when he was a child he was violent and even threatened his mother with a knife. Lucy suggests that Phoebe not marry Luke, that doing so what be a terrible idea and that she wants to keep her as her maid. However Phoebe insists that she must marry him and that “It will be my ruin, and the ruin of others, if I break my word”(Page 112). So Lucy accepts that Phoebe must marry Luke and suggests that there must be some great secret at the bottom of this. All great liars suspect everyone of lying which again supports the possibility she is Helen and she is hiding her identity. Phoebe then admits that there is a great secret she has which she is hiding and turns away.


Lucy asks what Luke might want to do professionally. Phoebe tells her he wants to open a public-house(pub). So Lucy invites him to her home to help him in this project. He comes and listens to Lady Audley’s “liberal” promise of fifty pounds so that he might start this business of his. Instead of being thankful however he is rather rude and asks for double the amount offered. When Lucy refuses he says “Oh yes, you will though” with “quiet insolence, that had a hidden meaning”. This is when it is revealed that Luke knows about Lucy’s secret and that Phoebe was forced to tell him.


After some close reading we know a little more about the situation. Lucy has confided in Phoebe whatever secret she is keeping. Also Phoebe has revealed this secret to Luke. Whatever the secret is it gives Luke leverage to extort Lucy for more money than she offered, even given her social status. This suggests that her secret is pretty serious, especially considering her explosively angry reaction when she finds out Phoebe has revealed her secret. We have also found out that Phoebe has a secret of her own which she is hiding. Luke may also be holding this secret over her so Phoebe and Lucy have a similar relationship with him. She may also be ruined by the revealing of her secret, similar to Lucy. Neither of them love their significant other, though we know why Phoebe will marry Luke. It has not been made entirely clear yet why Lucy married Sir Michael though. Why are there so many similarities?

1 Comment

  1. I totally agree with all the similarities between Phoebe and Lucy, but the one difference I noticed between these two is the fact that Phoebe does not have the freedom that Lucy possesses. Phoebe seems to have more freedom being Lucy’s maid than her marrying luke. Lucy treats Phoebe as her companion and has a better relationship with Phoebe then Luke does with her. Although Phoebe is dreading to be with luke as you stated in your blog, she has her personal reasons on why she has to go along with this doomed marriage. If Phoebe doesn’t love Luke why does she tell him her confidential secret? Because now Phoebe has given Luke more leverage on her and she must do everything he wants. Another aspect I’ve wondered is why Phoebe decides to take the hair from Lucy’s jewelry box. Has Lucy even noticed if it’s been missing? It almost seems like Phoebe has her own plan of her own.

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