The duality of monstrous women in Lady Audley’s Secret

My lady crushed the letter fiercely in her hand, and flung it from her into the flames. “If he stood before me now, and I could kill him,” she muttered in a strange inward whisper, “I would do it – I would do it!” She snatched up the lamp and rushed into the adjoining room. She shut the door behind her. She could not endure any witness of her horrible despair – She could endure nothing; neither herself nor her surroundings.

Here we see lady Audley falling apart further as Robert pursues and seeks to uncover the truth. What is interesting is the range of emotions she shows. She is “fiercely” destroying the letter showing anger, but she is also subdued in that she is “muttering in a strange inward whisper”. Then she “rushed” to a different location. She is finally in “despair”. What is so interesting about these emotional words and quick emotional shifts is it shows the extent to which she has been pushed in her life. She has little control anymore because everything that has happened has been too much. The repeated usages of the word “endure” show that the issue is not that any single event has happened but the repeated burden of her own actions and those around her are too much and she has lost control, but she still wishes to keep up the appearance. It shows how the novel seeks to portray women who have suffered greatly as unable to cope with it. This weak portrayal is odd however as it is contrasted with her desire to kill and willingness to do anything to protect herself. It puts lady Audley and Victorian women on the whole in a simultaneous stance of both weakness and power.  The emotional lack of control contrasts with the way the she carefully manipulates those around her and portrays women who defy Victorian norms in a very negative light.

Leave a Reply