What does someone’s safety have to do with a small cold?


“I have no doubt you have been anxious, Lady Audley,” Robert said, after a pause, fixing my lady’s eyes as they wandered furtively to his face. “There is no one to whom my uncle’s life can be of more value than to you. Your happiness, your prosperity, your safety depends alike upon his existence” (217).

This passage takes place as Robert, Alicia and Lady Audley are all sitting around Sir Michael as he is sick with his cold. What Robert says here seems nice and genuine, however at second glance it appears like Robert is trying to hint to Lady Audley that he knows something she doesn’t want to be found out. The last of the passage that states, “Your happiness, your prosperity, your safety depends alike upon his existence” (217) seems to be hinting towards the power Michael has to protect Lady Audley from all her hidden secrets. The use of the word “safety” in this passage, as well as the fact that it is italicized jumps out at me right away because it’s not really a word that is usually associated with happiness and prosperity, especially when it’s tied to a husband’s life. This idea of her safety resting in the hands of Michael has an interesting connotation when you think of the book as a whole. After this passage, in later chapters there is what appears to be an underlying fear stemming from Lady Audley regarding her position at Audley Court. More specifically when Lady Audley is talking to Michael about Robert in Chapter 9 and additionally when Robert wants to talk to Michael about Lady Audley at the end of Chapter 8, it is apparent that everything goes through Michael and he won’t believe much without evidence that backs it up. To me, the book is constantly circulating around her and her dodginess to talk about her past. This passage has a greater meaning to the rest of book because to me it implies that Robert knows something about Lady Audley that could put her in some sort of harm as a result if Michael was not in the way. As Robert has discovered more about what he thinks is Lady Audley’s past, it seems as though this safety that allows her to hide herself behind a title stems from Michael and that, like this passage says, if he were to die, her safety would be gone along with her happiness. This idea comes to fruition when Lady Audley is trying to convince Michael that Robert is mad so that she will be protected and defended by Michael from whatever Robert says about her.



The Corpse of Hope

“He walked straight out of the house, this foolish old man, because there was some strong emotion at work in his heart – neither joy nor triumph […] He carried the corpse of that hope which had died at the sound of Lucy’s words” (17).

Throughout this passage there is a lot of emphasis on emotion. One part that stands out to me is the repetition of death, more specifically the word “corpse”. Especially in the last sentence it says, “He carried the corpse of hope which had died at the sound of Lucy’s words” (17). Not only is he saying that his hope for this marriage was already gone, but that it had also died at the sound of his future wife’s voice. This line is significant especially when he should be feeling happy. I think it has a lot to say about his feelings towards Lucy, and how those feelings may be present throughout the rest of the novel. This repetition of corpse has something to say about who he is as a person. He’s about to start a new beginning in his life and is describing it as more of an ending where essentially all hope is dead. It may be a stretch, but I get the idea that this passage has a much greater meaning than his feelings about a new marriage. I think this is showing how this relationship will continue because he is disappointed by the outcome that he originally wanted. The prospect of marrying Lucy was so grand that it seemed as if he never thought it would happen. Now that it is, all he is feeling is disappointment and heartache. What jumps out at me the most about this idea of death, is that later on in Chapter 5, when Phoebe and Luke sneak into her room, in this box filled with jewels, there’s what they presume is a baby’s hair among a chest of jewels and gold. Clearly something had to have happened, maybe the loss of a child, that could indicate disappointment and loss in their lives. This passage may be hinting towards death and disappointment that will fill their marriage and their lives throughout the novel.