Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Robert’s Laziness

There is a reoccurring theme in this book about Robert Audley being lazy and George leaving him during his restful moments. On pg. 75, the first page of the chapter “After the Storm”, Robert is described as sitting through the storm the same way he does every thing else in life: by lying on the couch, reading days old newspaper. Within the same paragraph, they transition to talking about George Talboys who is active, fearful of the storm, and moving around the room, and leaving him to go outside to walk in the rain. On pg. 99, the first page of “Troubled Dreams”, Robert Audley is described using the word “lazy” once again, but this time in a complimentary way, as he is has been searching relentlessly for George Talboys. Within this same paragraph George Talboys is brought up talking about George as to how he left Robert again, but this time while he was being lazy, sleeping during fishing much like the language used on pg. 75. After the narrator is complimentary of how hard Robert has worked for 48 hours trying to find letters that George left behind, the narrator delves into Robert’s sleep and dreams. He goes to bed until he woken up by someone at the door. The narrator’s language surrounding Robert has led me to believe that they blame, in some way, George’s disappearance on Robert’s laziness. If he had just been up while they were fishing maybe George wouldn’t have disappeared. Even the way that the narrator depicts Robert’s search for George is sluggish, taking breaks for naps frequently and moving slowly on the mystery of his disappearance. I would argue that the language the narrator uses is purposeful. In a few paragraphs the narrator is describing George and Robert as binaries, one passive and one active. In more than one case as well, the narrator is connecting Robert’s lazy, sleepy nature to George being gone and having left during that time of rest.

1 Comment

  1. I think it is really interesting that you say George and Robert are described as binaries, one active and one passive because it is true that George has more liveliness than Robert when we first meet him, but I think as time passes the two men switch roles. After George learns of Helen’s death, he becomes more sluggish and sad, while Robert is more actively interacting with his friend. I think that after George goes missing and becomes passive, Robert becomes more active searching for his lost friend, causing their roles to completely switch.

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