Lady Audley’s Isolation and Vulnerability: A Closer Look

Quote: “For the first time in her life, a vague feeling of terror took possession of her. She stood for a few moments, motionless and pale, looking down at the letter in her hand.

 She tried to think, but her mind was a blank. She tried to remember what she had done with the other letters, but she could not. She felt herself losing her self-possession, and with it her courage.” (Braddon Ch. 14)

This passage depicts the fear and anxiety of Lady Audley as she realizes her secret is at risk of being exposed. The repetition of the word “She” is emphasizing the isolation and vulnerability of Lady Audley. Notice that when Lady Audley first finds the letter from her past, she is alone, adding more emphasis on the feeling of isolation. She is not with her husband or any of her friends to turn to for support. The letter from her past has left her completely immobilized with fear and I would argue that this passage is about Lady Audley realizing she is losing control of her life.  The clustering of words such as “fear,” “terror,” and “blank” creates a sense of unease and the fact that Lady Audley cannot remember what she has done with the other letters suggests that she is overwhelmed and not capable of making rational decisions. These patterns and repetitions are common throughout the novel. Lady Audley is a character who is constantly struggling to keep her secrets hidden. The repetition of these words and phrases reflects her inner turmoil and her fear of being exposed.

One thought on “Lady Audley’s Isolation and Vulnerability: A Closer Look”

  1. This idea of connecting the physical isolation of Lady Audley to her social/mental isolation is intriguing. I agree with you that this is an intentional move by the author to display Lady Audley’s cover-up falling apart. The use of words related to fear in just a few lines certainly gets that point across. However, it does make me wonder if this could also just be a strategy used by Braddon to increase the suspense in the story. Making the reader believe that Lady Audley has fear can give the impression that something drastic is going to happen.

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