“She wore a black ribbon round her neck, with a locket or a cross, or a miniature, perhaps, attached to it; but whatever the trinket was, she always kept it hidden under her dress” (Braddon 14).
Even though Lucy always wears this ribbon around her neck, she does not disclose what hangs from the ribbon. It is only revealed to be a ring wrapped in paper when Phoebe looks around in Lucy’s things. The secrecy of the ribbon connects to the previously established patterns of secrecy, which were especially detailed on page 9. The narrator describes this grassy area as the perfect place for a hidden meeting, whether between lovers or conspirators. However, this area is only 20 paces from the house, putting this ‘private’ spot in a delicate balance of secrets and public knowledge.
I think that the black ribbon reflects on this contrast between secrets and yet the proximity to being revealed. Even though the ring hides behind the neckline of Lucy’s dresses, one small slip up and the secret would be out as it is so close to being prominently displayed on Lucy’s chest. I believe that this ribbon is a physical representation of Lucy’s past that she is clearly trying to be kept out of the spotlight. But, since the ring at the end of the ribbon is on the verge of being seen, I believe that this means that there is a threat of Lucy’s secret being revealed. While Lucy may believe that her secret that manifests itself in the ring at the end of the ribbon will never be revealed, there is a looming danger that could expose Lucy’s lies. Since Phoebe was able to discover the ring kept on the ribbon, I believe that this acts as foreshadowing, meaning that the tightly woven secret that Lucy is hiding will soon start to unravel.
3 thoughts on “The Secrets of the Black Ribbon”
I really enjoy the connection that you make referring to the black ribbon and the patterns of the secrecy of the house, including the grassy area and the secret passages. Additionally, just like the contrast that the black ribbon represents, the contrast between this area and the beautiful scenery seems to be hinting at the underlying mystery in Audley Court. Both contrasting patterns serve as an excellent symbolic representation of the domestic fiction genre, where the dramas and traumatic events arise from what seems to be a peaceful and ideal domestic setting.
I love your interpretation of the black ribbon representing the contrasts between secrets and the proximity to them being revealed! It reminds me of Robert’s “so close!” moments during his detective work throughout the text. I also think the color of the ribbon is significant. We know that Lucy is famous for her bright personality and physique, and the black ribbon contrasts this. Given the dark/light binary we have observed throughout the novel, I think the black ribbon against Lucy’s fair, yet also bright skin further contrasts the evilness of the secrets and the supposed childish innocence of Lucy’s character.
The idea of Lady Audley’s black ribbon representing this underlying contrast between secrets and their proximity to being revealed is really interesting. This ribbon was a detail that was very poignant, but it has not been mentioned again, and it seems as though it’s one of those mysteries that Robert hints at throughout the book but then it seems as if he has just moved on to other issues. Throughout this novel so far there have been numerous times a secret or what we think could be one has almost been revealed. Another instant of this happening is when Robert is talking to Luke, it seems as though a secret is about to slip.
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