What Lies Beneath: Lady Audley Blog Post #1

“‘Dear me!’ she said, ‘this is very strange. I did not think men were capable of these deep and lasting affections. I thought that one pretty face was as good as another pretty face to them, and that when number one with blue eyes and fair hair died, they had only to look out for number two with black eyes and hair, by way of variety,’” (Braddon 88).

Chapter 11 opens with a conversation between Robert, Michael, and Lady Audley regarding the fate of George Talboys. During this exchange, when Lady Audley questions Robert’s concern for George, she learns of the grief Helen’s death has caused him and speaks the aforementioned passage.

The way Lady Audley approaches this topic is notably very straightforward despite the previous awkward silence (stemming from Robert’s implication that George has potentially committed suicide). Though she is revealing a great deal about her own approach to relationships and cynicism, she does so with a very matter-of-fact tone. The lack of emotive punctuation (question marks, exclamation points, etc.) indicates her cadence to be rather stable, and her speech is unmarked by any indication of true distress. Despite this tone, such a comment seems deeply out of character for the agreeable persona of Lady Audley. As she has shown herself to be capable of maintaining a composed appearance before, this is not surprising but contributes to her character as someone suspiciously put-together and perfect.

Returning to the text, we see this attitude has persisted since before the story takes place, and Lady Audley’s past has left a lasting impact. She feels undeserving of the affection Michael showed her; clearly, she has had negative experiences that color her current understanding of relationships. But what? Her disbelief in the affections being “deep and lasting” (Braddon 88) seems to imply that she does not think of love as a constant, but rather as fleeting. She also refers to the women in her example as “number one” and “number two” (88), like objects or cattle more than humans with appropriate worth. Her prior beliefs that she is unlucky supplement this idea of instability in love. She herself is very conscious of the many factors that influence a relationship other than pure love, and the idea that George’s love was so great he would end his life in the absence of Helen is something she cannot fathom. This passage prompts the reader to delve further into Lady Audley’s true personality past the impression the narrator gives of her.

4 thoughts on “What Lies Beneath: Lady Audley Blog Post #1”

  1. This is a really interesting passage, and shows a bit of Lady Audley’s worldview. It could be argued that the way Lady Audley has been treated in the past is what led to her having these views, but it could also be said that Lady Audley is using this mindset to justify her attempted murder. It may be comforting for her to think that George had no real feelings for her, as it would make her crimes feel less personal.

  2. I also noted this passage when reading it the first time as being out of the ordinary. I think it’s one of the real first glimpses into the window of Lady Audley’s mind. She clearly views society like a game to be played which makes sense during a ‘class essential’ time period. But we know little of her background at this point which is why it’s so intriguing. When we finally hear her backstory in the later half is when this really makes sense. Not just because of her revealed mystery but because we learn of her harsh upbringing and troubles with love.

  3. I agree that this passage is very telling. Lady Audley’s belief in the shallowness of men’s affection perhaps explains why she was so able to abandon her life with George. She didn’t believe he wouldn’t be perfectly contented to move on to the next woman and seems shocked that he felt a deeper emotional connection to her. When George left for Australia Lady Audley took that as evidence of the fickleness of men and carried that projection as a representation of all men.

  4. I think this quote really sums up the true thoughts and feelings of Lady Audley’s character. Your analysis of the quote to me perfectly summarizes Lady Audley’s thoughts about love and marriage. Your description of Lady Audley’s view of love as fleeting rather than constant for me just continues to drive home the narrative that Lady Audley’s is just using her situation for her own personal gain. This quote is one of the many allusions that the author gives to the reader that Lady Audley is not who she claims to be and that there is something sinister about her demeanor and the way she carries herself. I also would say that this quote and the points you allude to in your post also reinforce the negative stereotypes about women being sneaky and untrustworthy during this time.

Comments are closed.