Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Blog Post #1

One paragraph that stood out to me in Lady Audley’s Secret was the first paragraph on page 57. In what seems to be an act of foreshadowing, Braddon is describing a beautiful countryside in comparison to cruel murders. Tranquil words such as “quiet”, “rustic”, “sweet”, and “calm” are used in comparison to cruel words such as “agonies”, “poisoned”, and “violent.” The words murder and peace are repeated throughout the paragraph, juxtaposing the beauty of nature and peace with the violent nature of man. The “spreading oak, whose very shadow promised – peace” is juxtaposed with “sudden and violent death by cruel blows”, displaying the antipode ideas of peace and chaos. Braddon describes a meadow on a quiet summers day contrasted with the murder and betrayal of a young woman by the man she loved and trusted, introducing the idea of evil in what seems to be a tranquil place. The contrast between chaos and peace is perpetuated by the lengthy, vivid crimes, ending with just one word – peace. By incorporating the emotions of chaos and peace into the same sentences, Braddon juxtaposes the images of violence and beauty. This suggests that chaos and beauty are not exclusive from each other. This idea of beauty and tranquility hiding dark, cruel secrets and the suggestion that chaos and beauty are not exclusive may be indicative of Lady Audley. Throughout the book, she is continually described as being an unmistakably beautiful girl, but this passage may be suggesting that she is hiding darker secrets

3 Comments

  1. John H. Watson, M.D.

    September 25, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    This post reminds me a bit of two others: “What’s in a Painting” and “False Appearances.” All three seem to revolve around the idea that, in Lady Audley’s Secret, things are not what they seem. The beautiful, tranquil grounds host many dark secrets; the controversial, pre-Raphaelite painting exposes Lady Audley’s true demonic character; lovely, coquettish Lucy is actually a madwoman/arsonist. This theme takes the reader beneath the facade of propriety that Victorian England has put up. It suggests that in life, not all things are pleasant as the citizens of the aforementioned era would have us believe.

  2. I find it very convenient that I read your blog post on the same day that I read chapter 6 because it proved that not only the assumptions you made about Lady Audley were true, but also on the dangers of the countryside and Audley Court. Another thing that struck out to me was, that the juxtaposition of violence and beauty you noticed on page 57 is still evident on page 384. When Lady Audley is revealing her final secret to Robert.

  3. This comment describes the way in which the novel presents something beautiful only to describe it once more with words that suggest that something deeper is actually taking place. The novel later describes Lucy in the same way, by presenting her as something beautiful and then describing her with imagery that suggests otherwise, such as with the painting or in the way that others, such as Alicia, believe there to be something wrong with her. As well, the house, although described as beautiful, is also described as odd and as a place that could potentially hide secrets. Lady Audley’s secret is a gothic novel, and therefore has elements of the sublime. Traditional beautiful aesthetics of the Victorian Era are shown in a new light, and common descriptions of the domestic are replaced with eerie imagery. The comment also correctly states that this is likely an element of foreshadowing.

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