Lady Audley’s Camouflage

The repeated use of grey on page 216 suggests a faded, weathered, oldness to Lady Audley’s surroundings. One may expect Lady Audley to seem out of place in this situation as throughout the book, she is described as young, pretty, and bright, as well as being said “always to be light-hearted, happy, and contented under any circumstances” (Braddon 11). Her main characteristics throughout the novel appear unfit for the somber scene in which Richard finds her, yet her face “had worn an anxious earnestness which made it only more beautiful” (Braddon 216). Lady Audley possesses an ability to constantly adapt to seem picturesque and perfectly suited for any occasion. I believe she has honed this ability in order to cover up her heinous deeds with a mask of beauty that has allowed her to hide in plain sight. She is described as “a model for a mediæval saint” in a “grey old cathedral, unchanged by Reformation” (Braddon 216). Her hair is a “haze” of “gold” (Braddon 216). She wears a “soft” gown “falling…to her feet” and her waist is “clasped” by “a narrow circlet” (Braddon 216.) All these details serve to make her seem delicate, holy, demure, and angelic. The softness of her appearance is a marked contrast to the brutality of what Robert believes she has done. 

Later, on page 216, Lady Audley’s mask of deceit that she has been honing for months finally slips. Upon seeing Richard, her face “faded from its delicate brightness, and looked scared and wan in the lamplight” (Braddon 216). I think that these lines reveal how much power and security Lady Audley has lost. Since Lord Audley is ill and Robert suspects her of having to do with George’s death, the walls are closing in on her. I believe she is starting to feel afraid.