The Disappearance


Rocco DiRico

ENGL 101

Blog #1

“Why do I go on with this,” he said, “when I know that it is leading me, step by step, day by day, hour by hour, nearer to that conclusion which, of all others, I should avoid? … Should I be justified in letting the chain which I have slowly put together, link by link, drop at this point, or must I go on adding fresh links to that fatal chain until the last rivet drops into its place and the circle is complete? I think, and I believe, that I shall never see my friend’s face again; and that no exertion of mine can ever be of any benefit to him. In plainer, crueler words I believe him to be dead. Am I bound to discover how and where he died? or being, as I think, on the road to that discovery, shall I do a wrong to the memory of George Talboys by turning back or stopping still? What am I to do?—what am I to do” (Braddon Chapter 19).

I decided to closely read an excerpt from Chapter 19 of this novel. The first thing that stood out to me was the periodic repetition in Robert’s words. He uses phrases such as “day by day” and “hour by hour”. This amplifies how tired and disheartened he feels throughout the tedious journey of searching for George. Yet, throughout the novel as a whole, Robert continues to look for George Talboys! I feel like at this moment, Mary Braddon’s dramatic use of repetition complemented by Robert’s commitment to find his friend displays how genuine of a character he is. 

Also, I noticed Mary Braddon’s phrasing technique in this passage was quite interesting. Technically, Robert is talking to Mrs. Maloney, but is he really? He asks contradictory questions like, “Am I bound to discover how and where he died? or being, as I think, on the road to that discovery, shall I do a wrong to the memory of George Talboys by turning back or stopping still” (Braddon Chapter 19). He uses the word “bound” which has a connotation of being placed under legal or moral restraint or obligation. This phrasing makes it evident Robert is unsure of what he should do. Should he stop searching or keep going?

Looking at other specific words, Robert uses the words fatal, crueler, and never. All of these words depict his dark and pessimistic tone. On a broader note, this behavior/tone somewhat foreshadows, or simply portrays, his inability to trust people for the remainder of the novel (e.g. he becomes sketchy about Lady Audley after seeing her handwriting on one of the three inscriptions from George’s trunk of belongings).

3 thoughts on “The Disappearance”

  1. What I find interesting about this excerpt is that when he is going through this crisis, he is in fact very close to solving the mystery. He has likely already realized who Lady Audley is, the narration has just not said so directly (likely because Braddon wanted to stretch the mystery out longer). So his despair is not the despair of a detective with no leads: he knows exactly who his main suspect is. Instead his despair has to stem from the fact that with his knowledge of who Lady Audley is and what he has done, he knows acting on it may hurt his family name. So while he says out loud that he is afraid for losing George, the actual source of his fear is a fear of hurting his social class position.

  2. I related your comments on Robert having this intense commitment to George to what we were talking about in class on Friday. The intimate connection Robert has to George it shows just how upset he is about his disappearance. This also explains how Robert is in love with someone for looking like George. It’s the hidden forbidden love story behind all the madness. Love is also something that drives many people into madness because it is such a strong and powerful emotion. It is clear Robert loves George and that is the reason he is making it his life’s purpose into finding him again. It just reminded me of how great of a story this was to start with to give us the reminder that madness isn’t always zombies and demons but it also comes from human emotions we all experience everyday. Adding to a new question of are we all mad?

  3. I think it is interesting to hear your points of view in your close reading. I often found myself growing frustrated with Roberts indecisiveness in Chapter 19. I think the word choice you analyzed looks at this idea of searching for George in a way I had not thought of. While I may be frustrated with Robert because I personally had given up on George, after reading your thoughts I can see why this could be considered genuine indecisiveness as Robert did not want to accept the idea of George being gone as true at the time.

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