Pretty Privilege

“Perhaps in that retrospectove reerie she recalles the early time in which she had first looked into the glass and discovered that she was beautiful: that fatal early time in which she had first begun to look upon her loveliness as a right divine, a boundless possesion which was to be a set-off all girlish short-comings, a counter-balance of every youtful sin.” (Braddon 293) 

In this passage, beauty is depicted as a tangible, powerful object, something that can and will be used. The term “boundless possession” specifically stood out for the reason that it shows how the attainment of beauty has no limits as to what someone can accomplish with it. This concept is not foreign to Lucy Audley. She has used her pretty face and deceitful nature to successfully carry out numerous ploys and instances of minipulation. She knows how easily she can influence the mind of Sir Michael Audley, along with others, as shown throughout the past few chapters of the book. She is confident in her ability to persuade Michael to believe that Robert has gone mad and does so with ease with her intense expression of emotion and the facade of a childlike innocence and ignorance. Robert recognizes this and in turn starts to generalize the category of women as a whole of doing this action. He sees this “power” that women hold as a danger to others, almost in protest to the increasing social power that women are gaining at this time in history. The book continuously builds on the idea that men are perceived to hold the power in social and romantic relationships while, in reality, women use their high emotional intelligence to gain power over situations and people. This way, they are easily able to manipulate for their own benefit. This idea is expressed through other female characters as well, such as Clara Talboys. Robert Frequently thinks back to her plea for him to continue searching for the truth of her brother’s “dissapearance”, a plea that he could not refuse. The fact that he could not say no to Clara angers Robert because he is then burdened with the responsibility that comes with the answers he is looking for. He is also angered at the fact that he could not say no because of her emtional power over him as a beautiful woman.  

I Don’t Need Your Money

“… he freely owned that he had no talent for whist, and that he didn’t know a knight from a castle upon the chess-board. Indeed, Mr. Talboys was by no means too learned a gentleman.” (Braddon 34)

In this description, George Talboys is not at all ashamed of his lack of higher education and status. In fact, he even goes on to laugh at and mock the woman he was speaking with on the ship at her interest in things like poetry and fashion. He finds them to be silly and of no real use. Diving deeper into the psychology of Mr. Talboys, this seeming resentment towards anyone and anything that could resemble higher status could stem from the resentment he has towards his own father. Since he had married a woman of a lower status than he, George’s father had discontinued his allowance that he had been given for many years. This had set them up for poverty later on, which is the reason he had to be away from his wife for over three years in the first place.

The abandonment of his father in his life, the later loss of his wife while away, and the lack of relationship between him and his son has resulted in Mr. Talboys’ struggle with intense psychological issues. Depression, for example, has been expressed in numerous ways throughout the book so far. It stated how George will often skip meals if not reminded and often has “gloomy fits” (Braddon 85). What seems like typical despair of a heartbreak then would quickly be classified as depression in today’s society. His passive attitude and often yearning for solitude may also help explain why he left Robert without a word so easily that day while fishing.