Secrets Never Truly Stay Secretive

There was not much in it; neither gold nor gems; only a baby’s little worsted shoe rolled up in a piece of paper, and a tiny lock of pale and silky yellow hair, evidently taken from a baby’s head. Phoebe’s eyes dilated as she examined the little packet. (Braddon, Project Gutenberg Online)

I noticed that this is our first encounter with what could be considered Lady Audley’s secret. Phoebe and Luke went snooping, and while Luke does not pay much attention to their findings other than what’s worth monetary value, Phoebe recognizes the significance of the little items hidden away in this little box.  The descriptiveness of the items she found seems to be significant, as the shoe is described as “worsted”, which I can infer means it has been worn and is no longer usable, and the hair lock is described as pale and silky. As Lady Audley is originally decribed as unbelievably beautiful, it can not come as such a surprise that the hair that is found is silky and blonde, which were both beauty standards for this time.  Another thing I noticed is that this little packet of emotionally important items was hidden away under gold and jewels, in a box that would be considered “important”.  The shoe was also rolled up in paper, meant to be hidden even more than normally.  There is repetition in the words little and tiny, giving significance to the magnitude of the items, as while they may be small physically, they mean a lot emotionally. Finding this box so early on in the novel can be seen as significant, as it may be foreshadowing to this secret eventually getting out or Lady Audley being questioned about a former life in which she was a part of.  What I’m really trying to say here is that I think these lines will end up being extremely significant in the overall plot of this novel (which spoiler alert; they are!).  A hidden secret found at the end of a chapter in a manner where someone was doing what they were not supposed to be is the definition of a set up for a larger plot in this story. These lines will prove to be either the downfall of Lady Audley and her new husband, a shameful moment in Lady Audley’s past, or a past life in which things were better for Lady Audley, something she keeps locked away in order to reminisce on (we all do this, think old birthday cards or letters from a former significant other).

3 thoughts on “Secrets Never Truly Stay Secretive”

  1. You bring up an interesting point, that secrets often don’t stay secretive in this novel. Secretiveness is a big theme in this book, in almost every chapter, someone is always hiding something. Which is very indicative of the culture at the time, given it was Victorian England, everything was assumed to be very proper and private, and secrets are an aspect of that cultural trait. Not only this but given the setting of the novel it might appear to be just another Victorian family but when you read it appears to be it becomes extremely scandalous. This thrills the reader because it makes their life more exciting given, they can relate to the story.

  2. Following eavisi previous comment, throughout the novel, there are numerous instances reflecting the theme of duality and hidden identities. For instance, Lady Audley’s transformation from Lucy Graham to Lady Audley is emblematic of the duplicitous nature that she embodies. The outwardly charming and beautiful persona contrasts sharply with the darker, more sinister aspects of her character that are hinted at through these secretive mementos. But what i want to add is how inn a broader context, the theme of hidden identities and secrets was a common trope in Victorian literature, reflecting societal anxieties about the rapidly changing social order. The contrast between the public persona and private life, the rich and the poor, the noble and the ignoble, are all encapsulated in Lady Audley’s character. Therefore, this passage isn’t just a turning point in the narrative; it’s also a critique of the societal norms and expectations of the time.

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