I have chosen the first passage of chapter four to focus on. “Robert Audley was supposed…himself a barrister” (Chapter 4). What really boils my blood about this statement is how it is still an excellent summation of the patriarchy almost one hundred years later. The word that does so much heavy lifting here is the word “unblushingly.” The fact that Robert can look someone dead in the eye and say, with a straight face that he deserves to be a barrister when he only landed there because he’s a straight white cis-man who has so many connections that it was easier for him to take this high profile job with pretty good pay than to not take it. “His father had…the latter course” (Chapter 4). If this doesn’t scream nepo baby then I do not know what does. Additionally, if Robert was a competent detective he would’ve been able to connect the dots that he mapped out at the end of chapter thirteen and detained Lady Audley. What this passage is really saying is the fact that men aren’t always deserving of their position and money. The idea that men use their, usually unearned, wealth and power to take things that shouldn’t belong to them is central to this story. Even Lady Audley herself is taken in, not by any virtue of Micheal Audley, but by his wealth. “He walked straight…and his position.” (Chapter 1) Elizabeth Braddon has done a great job of telling us from the first chapter what this book is about. It’s about incompetent and stupid men who haven’t earned what they have. Is that a bold take? I don’t think so. The sensation novel allowed the author to say what she thought under the guise of fiction.
Yours Truly and Dearly,
Carmine “Red” Zuigiber