Do as I say, not as I do

Paragraph starting with “Why, one of those diamond things would set us up in life, Phoebe,” and ending with “you shall have the public-house, Luke.” (34)

I think this passage exposes the idea of preaching morality, but then turning around and doing the opposite for your own gain. Phoebe shrieks at Luke to put the bracelet down, and when he says that “one of those diamond things would set us up in life, Phoebe,” she responds by saying, “how can you speak about such things,” but in the end, Phoebe is the one that goes against her morals and takes something from the chest. Not only does Phoebe steal from the chest, but instead of stealing a diamond piece, that is valuable, while also replaceable, Phoebe decides to take the belongings of a child, which I assume is more treasured by the family than the diamonds. I thought this passage pertained to the theme I have observed throughout the novel so far, which is the differences between appearances and reality. In multiple cases we see people performing an act to seem like a genuine, or exceptional person, when they can be malicious and devious. I saw this with George Talboys, how he speaks about the pure love he held for his wife and how he basically kissed the ground she walked on, but when we read about their relationship before he left, the author talks about these rages that he would go into, showing how his actions contradict the things he says, which I see in this passage with Phoebe. When Luke first opens this draw, Phoebe mutters, “So this is what my lady hides in the secret drawer,” this use of the words hides, secret, and mutters all refer to the theme of appearance versus reality. In this instance the vocabulary is used to describe Phoebe’s lady as well, showing that there are multiple characters that we’ve meet so far, that connect to this theme. 

5 thoughts on “Do as I say, not as I do”

  1. I agree that the theme of appearance versus reality is very prominent in this book and I would go to say the same with society as a whole in those times. Everyone during this time period was much more concerned with status and wealth than their actual quality of life. People did not marry for love as much as they married for status, with the exception of George Talboys in this book. This leaves women focusing on their beauty in order to marry rich men and men focusing on their wealth in order to marry beautiful women. Appearance is key and most people would do anything to preserve theirs.

  2. I believe that throughout the book we see Luke as this bumbling Neanderthal who quickly becomes villainized, but I believe Phoebe is every bit as cunning and dangerous. It’s her plain appearance and timid nature that allows her to go unnoticed. I also find it intriguing that Lucy and Phoebe are constantly being compared, like they’re interchangeable. I believe that this ties in nicely with the theme of the book and the purpose of sensation novels themselves, as we can see that not everything is as perfect as it appears on the outside, and darkness can oftentimes lurk within.

  3. I think you raise a really good point about appearances vs. reality, especially with Phoebe and Lady Audley. Lady Audley clearly has a completely different persona from how she appears to everyone. It seems to me that although Phoebe seems closest to Lady Audley there’s still another reality of her that no one knows about. This seems to come up when Luke and Phoebe find the hidden chest with hair and gems in it, and they seem to still be uncovering secrets. The presence of secrets also shows up when she refused to really talk to George Talboys and has acted weird when Robert has talked to her about George.

  4. This is such an interesting take on morality, humanity, and also wealth status during this time. While this instance is a commentary on how men and women are held to different moral standards during this time, it also speaks to how truly divided classes were at this time, to the point that wealth of this caliber is dangerous to be in contact with. There also seems to be an implicit expectation that a person of different economic status would react differently in the face of being in from of wealth, by stealing.

  5. I agree that this passage seems shrouded in the idea of morality, but I also think it’s a critical point in the plot that helps to develop Luke and Phoebe’s dynamic. The notion in the blog post about the difference in appearances and reality becomes especially relevant when Braddon writes about Luke and Phoebe’s wedding. Phoebe was quoted to appear as a ghost of a bride on her wedding day rather than a joyous individual on her ceremonious day. After her marriage to Luke, Phoebe becomes more and more distant from the individual that we met when she was Lady Audley’s maid.

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