Men vs Women?

Within the second volume of Lady Audley’s Secret, there seems to be an underlying theme or possible binary between the two sexes. At one point, Robert Audley goes on a rant about how women are, “pitiless to each other” and are essentially, the lesser sex (236). Later on in the volume, he even continues to talk about the “horrible things that have been done by women, since that day upon which Eve was created to be Adam’s companion” (271). On the other side, Lady Audley also takes the time to explain to Alicia that “madness is more often transmitted from father to son than from father to daughter” (276). While this quote is less obviously defaming of men, it can be inferred that she is illuding to the madness of all men, since madness is more likely to be transmitted from father to son.

While looking at these three quotes and passages, one might find themselves questioning why there is this theme and binary. While it cannot be said for sure, unless you are Mary Elizabeth Braddon, there may be assumptions. My assumption is that it is not really about the sexes, but more so the actual people these characters were talking about. Robert and Lady Audley have an obvious dislike for each other. Robert believes that Lady Audley murdered his best friend, while Lady Audley is either worried, he’s going to find out her secrets, or is pissed that he thinks that in the first place. While they go on tangents about the opposite sex, I believe these tangents are just overall thoughts about each other. Robert thinks that Lady Audley is the devil, that she is lesser than and realizes the (so-called) horrible things she has done. Lady Audley believes that Robert is mad, even if he is right about his assumptions. While these comments were spoken in the second volume, the entire book shows the dislike these two characters have for each other. I would bet money that continues in the third volume.

Who is Helen?

One of the more interesting aspects of this section of reading is the section where Lady Audley requests that Phoebe does her a favor and then gives her time off and extra pay for completing this (P. 61). While the narrator does not specify what exactly Lady Audley requests of Phoebe, it is obvious it is something she does not want others to know. Because of the pattern Lady Audley seems to be taking, where she is consistently avoiding George, it could be assumed that Phoebe was the one who sent the telegram requesting Lady Audley to visit her sick friend. I think that Lady Audley is attempting to avoid George, because she is actually Helen, his late wife.

Overall, this passage relates to the entire novel because it sets up another way that Lady Audley is attempting to avoid George. We do not know for sure if Phoebe sent the telegraph at Lady Audley’s request, but due to the secrecy of whatever the request was, and the surprise Lady Audley had when Mr. Audley offered to go with her, we can assume that she knew this was a fake trip. There is a pattern throughout this book, where Lady Audley is exhausted, or ill, or off on a trip and she avoids seeing George. She does not seem to avoid seeing Robert, however she does avoid George.  If Lady Audley is George’s late wife, she could be hiding to enjoy her now extravagant life and she would rather not lose that experience.