Passage: “People are insane for years and years before their insanity is found out. They know that they are mad, but they know how to keep their secret… They commit a crime, perhaps. The horrible temptation of opportunity assails them, the knife is in their hand, and the unconscious victim by their side” (Braddon 283).
During this passage, Lady Audley is desperately trying to make Sir Michael believe that Robert has gone insane. She hopes to convince Michael that Robert suffers from madness before he has the chance to expose her secret to him. Through this passage, Lady Audley is trying to frame Robert, however, I believe this passage to be a reflection of her own mental state, and even a confession. As Lady Audley states, “people are insane for years and years before this insanity is found out”, and “they know how to keep their secret” (Braddon 283). This description fits Lady Audley because she has probably been mad for many years, due to George’s absence, and she definitely knows how to keep her secret. There have been many instances where Lady Audley has tried to manipulate Michael so he does not find out her true identity. Also, before the passage, Lady Audley says “I believe [Robert] has lived too long alone in those solitary Temple chambers. Perhaps he reads too much, or smokes too much” (Braddon 283). Again, this is more self-reflection on Lady Audley’s part as she was essentially alone for many years while George was in Australia. She even once admitted to Phoebe that she loves reading sensation novels.
The second part of the passage is where I believe Lady Audley is making a confession. She says “They commit a crime, perhaps. The horrible temptation of opportunity assails them, the knife is in their hand, and the unconscious victim by their side” (Braddon 283). Lady Audley was tempted by the opportunity to fake her death and start a new life, then, when George discovers her truth, she takes that opportunity to kill him. Though Lady Audley is trying to convince Michael of Robert’s madness, she was really reflecting on herself and the crimes she has committed.