Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Brief But Lasting Impressions

While Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle on the surface are very similar, such as including a crime needing to be solved and a murder mystery in the works, the differences are even more apparent between the two novels. Immediately, readers can see that the methods of detectives Robert Audley and Sherlock Holmes are strikingly different. Already, within the first few pages, Sherlock Holmes is connecting pieces together; while Robert Audley managed to beat around the bush for the majority of our previous read.

Therefore, it is best to cite a similar detail that brings the two novels together. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, readers first learn about Sir Charles Baskerville when they hear of his death. Barely anymore information is given about the man that doesn’t surround this incident. Yet, “though Sir Charles had resided at Baskerville Hall for a comparatively short period his amiability of character and extreme generosity had won the affection and respect of all who had been brought into contact with him” (Conan Doyle, 16).

This instance immediately reminded me of Lady Audley. Though she was only seen in glimpses by many around her, she was still loved and admired by all, initially. For example, “she had appeared at several public balls at Chelmsford and Colchester, and was immediately established as the belle of the country” (Braddon, 56). Lady Audley was only seen at these public affairs for a brief time, yet she left a favorable aura, much like the brief stay Sir Charles had amongst his company. With that being said, it will be interesting to see if the opinion readers have of Sir Charles changes as the plot progresses, as they did with Lady Audley.

3 Comments

  1. The similarities between the vague depiction of the protagonists is Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of the Baskervilles pose a question of those people who actually know the characters are. Is it possible that the reason the narrator does not describe these characters is because no one is close with them? The narrator couldn’t describe Lady Audley because her past was hidden to everyone at Audley Court until it was forcibly revealed by Robert. It is possible that Watson struggles to describe Sir Charles because not many knew him well.

  2. I really liked how you talk about the comparisons and contrasts between the two novels. I agree that on the surface both novels could be considered similar, but are truly different. The points you bring up are really strong as well. However, I think this argument could’ve been stronger if you would’ve focused on one specific lens, like maybe narrator, and delved deeper into the differences between the two narrators.

  3. I hadn’t looked at the text from this angle or picked up on this when I originally read it. I viewed Lady Audley as a potential suspect and Sir Charles as a victim. However, when comparing the two, one can also argue that they are similar due to the evil inheritance factor. In Lady Audley’s case, she was cursed with her mother’s history of mental illness. In the Baskerville family, they are cursed and haunted by the legend of the hound. Both characters experience a predetermined negative fate as a result of their heritage

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