“‘I hate women,’ he thought, savagely. ‘They’re bold, brazen, abominable creatures, invented for the annoyance and destruction of their superiors. Look at this business of poor George’s! It’s all woman’s work from one end to the other. He marries a woman, and his father casts him off penniless and professionless. He hears of the woman’s death and he breaks his heart—his good honest, manly heart, worth a million of the treacherous lumps of self-interest and mercenary calculation which beats in women’s breasts. He goes to a woman’s house and he is never seen alive again. And now I find myself driven into a corner by another woman, of whose existence I had never thought until this day’”(Braddon Chapter 24).
Chapter 24 features a description of Robert Audley’s thought process towards the character of women. The text reads, “‘They’re bold, brazen…”(Braddon Chapter 24), these words portray women at first as being leaders who have no shame in what they do, but shortly following, Robert Audley’s thought process wanders off into adjectives like “abominable creatures”(Braddon Chapter 24) and “annoyance”(Braddon Chapter 24). This shift in diction indicates a conflicting description of the positive and negative attributes that women, according to Robert Audley, possess. Further into the passage is a description of the struggle that women inflict upon men. The text reads, “He hears of the woman’s death and he breaks his heart…”(Braddon Chapter 24). Not only does this describe a struggle between men and women but it targets women as the figures in a man’s life who inflict the most pain. Robert goes on to describe his own conflict with George’s sister. He portrays her as not a human, but instead a trap or obstacle to his everyday life. He feels as though this woman has appeared in his life and he has been stopped in his pursuit of his investigation.
This thought process not only can be used as a comment on Robert Audley’s character, but it is also a potential comment on the time period in which this book was written. The repetitive examples of women impeding on the endeavors of a man illustrates the inevitable gaze of a male. It supposes that the male gaze is the fault of a woman, and when this gaze is caught a man cannot help being caught up in the women which in turn distracts him from his very own life. This has a direct connection to the lustful tendency of men at the time period when it came to women. Helen Talboys’ death affecting George Talboys the way it did is made to seem as if it is her fault for having a grip on him with her love. This example alone sums up the view on women in this book, specifically from Robert Audley’s point-of-view, that women are viewed as mysterious and bold obstacles to the endeavors of men.
Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. “Lady Audley’s Secret.” Www.gutenberg.org, Jonathan Ingram, 13 Feb. 2012, www.gutenberg.org/files/8954/8954-h/8954-h.htm. Accessed 15 Sept. 2023.