The Puppet Show

“My lady’s face was so much in the shadow, that Sir Micheal Audley was unaware of the bright change that came over its sickly pallor as he made this very common-place observation. A triumphant simple illuminated Lucy Audley’s countenance, a smile that plainly said, ‘It is coming — it is coming; I can twist him which I like. I can put black before him, and if I say it is white, he will believe me” (279). 

Due to Lady Audley’s face being “…so much in the shadow…” Sir Micheal is unable to notice the “bright change” in her face. This juxtaposition between shadow and light (or bright) displays the differences in who Lady Audley is, and how she presents herself; she can only be her true self, show her true reactions, when she is in the shadows. Also, the secret smile occurs only after Sir Micheal agrees with her observation that Robert can be half-mad, which she was aiming to prove after her walk with Robert. She went into the parlor to talk with Sir Micheal with the goal of convincing this message about Robert to Sir Micheal, and she was never worried about that goal failing. As her smile describes, Lady Audley “can put black before him, and if [she] say[s] it is white, he will believe [her]” (279). Lady Audely knows her power: the ability to convince Sir Micheal of anything, even if it is irrefutably wrong. She also knows how to abuse this power to get whatever she desires. She can easily puppeteer Micheal,  breaking his and Robert’s bond, separating them to keep her secret, or completely eliminate Robert, and convince Sir Micheal it was his idea.  Mary Elizabeth Braddon is using Lady Audley to demonstrate power women with high status hold, and how prevalent their opinions are in the actions of their wealthy husbands. It also demonstrates how women will have to hide their true identities from their husbands, as Lady Audley had to hide her reaction in the shadow. Lady Audley can “twist him which [she] like”, making him believe in what she believes in, thus demonstrating the indirect and subtle power that women hold, and how they can use that power to become the puppet master.

Leave a Reply