Lady Audley’s Secret (Drawer)

“There was not much in it; neither gold nor gems; only a baby’s little worsted shoe rolled up in a piece of paper, and a tiny lock of pale and silky yellow hair, evidently taken from a baby’s head. Phoebe’s eyes dilated as she examined the little packet. ‘So this is what my lady hides in the secret drawer,’ she muttered” (Braddon 34).

Phoebe and Luke discover the secret drawer in Lady Audley’s jewel box. This passage juxtaposes the value in the materialistic and the personal. Words, such as “gold”, and “gems” focus on wealth. Here, objects that are widely considered beautiful and rare, stand in opposition with ordinary personal belongings, such as “hair” and “shoe” (34). The passage also focuses very much on the size of the items. The word “little” is used twice to describe the size of the pieces. The lock of hair is described as “tiny” (34). This creates an even more significant gap between the two kinds of items. Although the objects are contrasted, they are also united and combined through the writing. It highlights the value of the simple things by using the word “silky” (34) to describe the lock of hair. While hair is accessible to most people, silk is very expensive, therefore, this collocation can almost be seen as an oxymoron, which contributes to the fusion of simplicity and wealth.

Furthermore, the passage includes the words “lady” and “secret” (34), which is a nod to the title of the novel and suggests that the scene is of importance. The contradictions that can be found in this passage, add to the mystery behind Lady Audley. The revelation of the secret drawer’s content is unexpected to the recipient and creates a nuance of unpredictability with Lady Audley’s character. This contributes to the title of the book that only has the readers ask themselves: What is Lady Audley’s secret?

2 thoughts on “Lady Audley’s Secret (Drawer)”

  1. What we can take from this scene only, is that Lady Audley has a connection to a child that she has to keep a secret. Phoebe also has a feeling that the hair and the shoe would prove important at some point. The most logical explanation would, therefore, be that Lady Audley has a child that the reader does not know of at that point. The only child in the story that we know at this point is Georgey (and maybe Alicia but she is too old to be Lady Audley’s). Thus, when the theory is correct, and Lady Audley has a child, it would either be with George Talboys or a character that we do not know yet.
    Knowing that George disappeared after he recognized the portrait of Lady Audley, a connection between the two would definitely make sense. The last part of the passage alludes to Lady Audley’s secret having something to do with the drawer so it is likely that the child is part of the interwoven affair that Lady Audley had with George Talboys.

  2. I was attracted to the very same part to look at the secret drawer. I made the leap of faith based on the position of the scene at the end of the chapter transitioning into the introduction of Robert and George. My leap was that these two things are related and that one of them is likely the father of this child should the secret be that those two things belong to Lady Audley’s secret child. This scene also sets up a string of events that tie Phoebe and Luke to the revealing of this secret. The main instance that comes to mind is with Robert and Luke where Luke is revealing that someone stingy is the reason, they are at the run-down Castle Inn.

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