“Perhaps they took a horrible pride in the enormity of their wickedness; in this ‘divinity of hell,’ which made them amongst sinful creatures” (Braddon 293)
This quote was initially confusing for me, considering the context of the period. A woman wrote this quote, and yet she is contradicting other women who are taking power for themselves. Yes, the women who are the subject are murderers and “wicked” (Braddon 293), but they are also going against cultural norms for women and taking over the patriarchal dynamic. On the other hand however, Mary Elizabeth Braddon may be trying to appease her male audience. A large portion of Lucy’s thoughts would be considered scandalous if she said them aloud, most of them around secrets, murder, hidden lives, and treachery. It is also heavily implied she is psychologically manipulating her husband for an ulterior motive and ignoring ethical boundaries, especially of the Victorian era. Perhaps Braddon was trying to point out the difference between women who use what power they have for evil, and women who use power for good. Lucy clearly has decision-making power in the novel, but the text talks about the root of her motive being sinful instead of good.
Another important part of the quote is who is saying this. Even though this section of the book is from Lucy’s perspective, Lucy herself is neither thinking nor saying this. Instead, it is the anonymous and omniscient narrator. The readers do not know the gender, the name, or the relationship of the narrator, which warrants the question: should we trust what they are saying? The narrator is clearly interjecting their opinion on women who commit sin with the dramatic line of the “divinity of hell” (Braddon 293). It compares women who are, from the Victorian perspective, inferior, because of the first “mistake” Eve made, yet the narrator put “divinity” before “hell” (Braddon 293). This implies that, if women are of the hellish nature, they still have divine power or some sort of speciality about them, more than what meets the eye.