A Secret Identity and Scandalous Past

“‘No more dependence, no more drudgery, no more humiliations’ she said,’every trace of the old life melted away-every clue to identity buried and forgotten-except these, except these'” (Braddon 17)

This passage is especially full of scandal. It talks about the “dependency, drudgery, and humiliation” (Braddon 17) of a woman who was shown as reverentially perfect in descriptions of previous chapters. When we are first introduced to Lucy in chapter 1 through Sir Michael Audley’s eyes, he describes her as having a “perfect harmony which pervaded every charm” (Braddon 12). However, the words in the quote above are all words full of negativity and hardship. She talks about her old life “melting” away which is the exact term used previously in the book to describe her eyes (Braddon 12).  Melting is a term for going away, slowly disappearing, like her identity, which she wanted to destroy. She seems desperate to leave all traces to her old life behind, but she repeats “except these” (Braddon 17) more than once in the passage. The reader is unsure of her expression when she says this, the narrator (who is omnipotent yet anonymous) doesn’t mention her feeling. This is a very passionate scene, yet there is irony in it because the characters and narrator have information that is important to the storyline that the reader does not. We as readers do not know if she is yearning, angry, mournful, or any other emotion, it is left purposely vague which adds to the air of mystery. Lucy wants to leave her life behinds so badly, she uses the word “clue” (Braddon 17), implying there is a mystery or problem there to be solved. There has to be something, so scandalous or reputation-ruining, she doesn’t want anyone to know or be able to trace to her. She also uses the term “identity,” implying her entire persona has some secrets or is entirely fabricated. She is leaving an identity behind, so it is an old life, family, or name she can no longer live? Perhaps the depression she spoke of in the “no more…humiliations” (Braddon 17) quote led to her running away and needing to start anew.

What I really think this passage is about is the hint to something that is sinister and scandalous underneath Lucy’s perfect facade. A past like that she could no longer tolerate due to a terrible mental state or maybe a dangerous situation. It was her own volition to start anew for a reason that is unclear to the reader, yet it hints still at secrets yet to be revealed.

One thought on “A Secret Identity and Scandalous Past”

  1. I like how you talked about the previous text where Sir Michael describes Lucy as being perfect, however she almost seems excited for her past “humiliations” to disappear after marrying him. I then question what her past must’ve been like for it to be so bad that she wants to “escape” it. However, if she wants to rid of her past so badly, “every clue to identity buried and forgotten,” why would she add, “except these, except these?”

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