So many thoughts. So, so many.
Yes, Robert escaped the fire because he didn’t like his room. His fussiness saved his life and the lives of the other inhabitants, including Luke. He finally gets a confession from Lady Audley. She is – “a MAD WOMAN!”
Some thoughts. Okay, I don’t buy it. Lucy, or Helen whatever, says her mother was mad and that’s why she’s mad. They don’t sound remotely like the same affliction.
“I saw no raving, straight-waist-coated maniac, guarded by zealous jailers, but a golden-haired, blue-eyed, girlish creature, who seemed as frivolous as a butterfly, and who skipped toward us with her yellow curls decorated with natural flowers, and saluted us with radiant smiles, and gay, ceaseless chatter.”
That could be said of the character Lucy plays, but the real Lucy is devious and cunning. Her mother didn’t push her husband down a well because he was about to blow her secret. I don’t think Lucy is mad. I think she’s been told all her life, or surmised, that’s she has her mother’s madness and that information is a lot to bear. Deep down she’s thought, “Someday I’m going to do something terrible and it will be because I’m mad.” In a way, that gives her freedom to do what she wants and blame it on her mom. It’s a perfect defense too. Can’t hang a mad woman. Is she selfish? Yes. Mad? No. Well, maybe a sociopath.
Lucy tells her life story and even after George abandons her, she’s doesn’t go mad. She gets depressed, which considering her situation is understandable. I’d be depressed too. She’s frustrated with her poverty, and although it’s the wrong thing to do, she does something about it. The men in her life are useless. She must take her own, and little Georgey’s, destiny into her own hands. I actually admire her for that.
So, the pushing of George down the well. Not her finest hour. I think she could have had a case for putting George in a madhouse if she had insisted on her not being Helen. The guy’s wife dies, there are witnesses, he simply saw a woman that looked like his wife and became obsessed. Considering all she had done up to this point, it should have been easy. She’s got a rich husband- badda bing, badda boom- madhouse for George. She lost her temper and murdered George instead. Robert is shocked at this information, even though this feels like old news to me by this point.
After Robert consults a doctor who can just look at a person and tell if they’re mad (uh huh), he packs Lucy off to France to a Madhouse Spa. Lucy is a tad angry about this.
Luke is the Worst!
Robert receives a message that Luke wants to see him and reluctantly returns to Audley Court. What to do about George’s body? Guess it has to stay down the well.
Luke has some interesting news. George is alive! He climbed out of the well and hid in some bushes which is where Luke finds him. George writes some letters and then toddles off to Australia, presumably, WITHOUT SEEING ROBERT IN PERSON! Did he learn nothing? Do not leave letters behind for people. See them face to face like a man, George. You are so stupid!
Because Luke is the worst, he doesn’t deliver those letters to Robert or Lucy. He is an asshole. His reason is because Lucy doesn’t offer the money to him to his liking. News for you Luke, blackmailers are jerks, no one is friends with their blackmailer. He doesn’t deliver Robert’s letter, because Rich People.
With this good news, Robert hangs out with George’s family and asks Clara to marry him, She will, if she can go to Australia with him to find George. But wait! George shows up at Robert’s apartment! You’re a little late, George. You could have saved everyone some trouble and come home months ago. Instead, of going to Australia, he went to New York. He would have stayed but he “yearned for the strong grasp of your hand, Bob.” *snort* Subtle.
In the end, Robert, Clara, and George all live together. Cosy. What they get up to there, I don’t know. George has no lady in his life. Alicia marries that Towers guy and everyone is happy, except for Lucy. She dies in the madhouse.
I have changed the ending in my head. I believe Lucy Moriarty-ed her way out of the madhouse. She bribed a doctor or used her sexuality to get out. Now she travels about Europe, relieving rich old men of their money while plotting jewellery heists. She is quite happy.
What did the Victorians make of Lady Audley’s Secret? I feel like the whole novel is subversive. Braddon appears to be giving this “unnatural” woman who uses her wiles to climb her way to the top her comeuppance but isn’t she really pointing out how unfair her situation is? Maybe it’s a 21st Century view but couldn’t they see that Lucy got the shaft? She’s a pretty girl who has a bright future and instead gets abandoned by her husband and left with a kid to feed. Lucy brings up this fact of George’s abandonment to Robert several times but he just brushes it off. Easy for him, he’s a rich dude who has no idea how scary it is to be that poor. He just struts around with his great wealth and education doing nothing but reading French novels. He couldn’t imagine her situation so he doesn’t. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, ROBERT!
Really, Lucy was just too damn smart and too ambitious. Like Thomas Hardy said, “The woman pays.”