Your Secret’s (not) Safe With Me

“I have been – in Yorkshire… glancing at his cousin, who stood a little way behind my lady, watching this confidential little dialogue.” (pg. 261)

I chose this passage because it was obvious that this is where it’s all coming to a head. When Robert Audley says that he has been in Yorkshire, where George used to live during his marriage, the response from Lady Audley was revealing. Braddon uses adjectives like faint and sickly to describe the smile that Lady Audley gives Robert in response, showing the switch of emotion she has. Through the entirety of George’s disappearance, Lady Audley has been a main suspect to Robert and this is where he finally has enough evidence to confront her and condemn her. Lady Audley, as expected, tries to act dumbfounded about why Robert wants to speak to her, she tries to stay calm and composed, and continue the façade she has held throughout the novel. This pertains to the theme of appearance vs reality, but this time there is no appearance she can keep up because she knows that Robert knows the truth, and who she really is, Helen Talboys. It is obvious that Lady Audley is finally out of her comfort zone, because she could soon be completely exposed and vulnerable to everyone, which she cannot fathom. Every conflict she has found herself in thus far, she has been able to squeeze her way out of it, but now she knows that Robert knows. This is essential to the novel because this whole time we’ve been suspicious of her, but now we know, even though she won’t admit it, what her secret is, and now it is a question of what she will do to Robert in order to have her secret contained.

2 thoughts on “Your Secret’s (not) Safe With Me”

  1. This blog post is interesting in retrospect because we later learn how Lady Audley feels after she knows that Robert has discovered her secret. At the beginning of Volume III, Lady Audley is described at pitying herself as much as she pities her husband (305). This shows that although she feels bad for others if her secret gets out, she feels just as bad for herself because she doesn’t want to return to a life of poverty. She clearly feels vulnerable knowing that even her beauty can’t save her from this secret, forcing her to pity herself even more.

  2. This mind game is what I have also been watching to determine Roberts ability as a barrister. In scenes with both Lady Audley and Phoebe he gives them evidence or hints at his knowledge of something in order to elicit a reaction. This happens numerous times over the course of the novel, but the class has continually and rightfully discussed whether Robert is useless or not. I think that Robert is far smarter and far better at what he is doing than we give him credit for. He has evidence that would destroy Sir Michael’s heart who is probably one of the only other people Robert cares anything about. Lady Audley has also done her best to wrap him around her finger which would have made that evidence fall on deaf ears.

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