Tension and Insanity

The passage I chose is on pages 275-273 of chapter 11, volume II. In this passage, Lucy tries to convince Alicia that Robert is “mad” after accusing Lucy of killing George. This passage is especially important because it develops the theme of appearances and deception and sensation literature. Lucy begins by repeatedly labeling Robert as “eccentric.” As she further develops that idea to Alicia, she changes the label to “mad.” Lucy convinces Alicia that Robert is crazy and suggests that Sir Audley would believe anything that she tells him. Not only does Lucy remove the spotlight off her secrets, but she tricks Alicia and intends to use her pull on her husband to ruin the reputation and credibility of Robert. This suggests that appearances are integral in the Victorian era. It also shows how easy it is to utilize misunderstandings of mental health to create an untruthful perception of others in the Victorian era. All of this is important because it is revealing of Lucy’s lack of morals. She is willing to use her charm over Sir Audley to portray a sane family member as mentally unwell to protect herself. Furthermore, Lucy’s intense response to the accusations suggests that there is some truth to them. This means it is likely that Lucy indeed has a history with George Talboys. We can reasonably speculate that Lucy was likely married to him, however, there is yet to be enough information regarding the accusations that she killed him. Moreover, outward appearances in comparison to limited knowledge of the inner thoughts and pasts of characters have proven to be an integral part of sensation novels as it allows for tension and reader speculation.

Lady Audly’s Secret

The passage I selected begins with “I do not think that throughout his courtship the baronet once calculated upon his wealth or his position as a strong reason for his success…” (13). There is the constant repetition of words that indicate that money is important in the victorian era and in the novel when concerning marriage and love. Furthermore, there is a noticeable repetition of words and phrases that are indicative of the patriarchy. The baronet had hoped that Lucy’s life had been one of “toil and dependence” (13). This suggests that family structures are very much important in the victorian era. This passage foreshadows the conflict to come between Lucy and Sir Michael Audley’s daughter because of the power struggle to become a lady of the house and thus household decision-maker. It is one of the few responsibilities women with status are able to achieve through marriage to a rich man.

Lucy wishes to “captivate a rich man” which entails she is likely in an unfavorable financial situation (13). In addition, there is very little known about Lucy Graham, thus there is a lot of mystery surrounding her intentions to marry a man that did not even initially interest her. Moreover, the apparent gender roles that Lucy must fill and take away from Audley’s daughter, in addition to the fincnacial drive, forshadow future conflict and jealousy between Lucy Gram and Audly’s daughter. There will also likely be scandals concerning Sir Audley given it seem that Lucy is only interested in the money and status, as well as, the fact that not much is known about her.