“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?