Quote: “My poor little Alicia,” said Robert, as tenderly as if he had been addressing some spoiled child, “do you suppose that because people don’t wear vinegar tops, or part their hair on the wrong side, or conduct themselves altogether after the manner of well-meaning maniacs, by way of proving the vehemence of their passion—do you suppose because of this, Alicia Audley, that they may not be just as sensible of the merits of a dear little warm-hearted and affectionate girl as ever their neighbors can be? Life is such a very troublesome matter, when all is said and done, that it’s as well even to take its blessings quietly. I don’t make a great howling because I can get good cigars one door from the corner of Chancery Lane, and have a dear, good girl for my cousin; but I am not the less grateful to Providence that it is so” (Braddon Ch. 16).
The passage is Roberts’s response to Alicia after Alicia mentions her intentions of potentially marrying Sir Harry Towers. The demeaning manner in which Robert addresses Alicia sticks out the most in the passage. The passage explicitly states, “as if he had been addressing some spoiled child” (Braddon Ch. 16). Robert’s attitude is shown by how he addresses Alicia. For example, when he says, “My poor little Alicica”, or “Do you suppose because of this, Alicia Audley,” he treats her the same way a parent would address their child. Roberts’s mannerisms not only show he responded most rudely but also relate to how bad of a detective he is. Throughout the novel, Alicia makes numerous attempts to show Robert her true feelings. Alicia has the chance to marry a wealthy man, but she still wants to be with Robert, and she is giving Robert one more shot. Robert, like many other times throughout the book, has no idea what is really going on. His below-average detective skills do not pick up Alicia’s intentions, so he treats Alicia as no more than his little cousin. It might be crazy, but this passage might show a growing frustration from Robert. Robert has a lot going on in his life, and since his feelings for Alicia are not mutual, he probably feels like Alicia is distracting him in a way. He cares about his cousin but does not want to deal with her drama. Therefore, he grows frustrated with her and does not treat her respectfully.