Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Clara Talboys Character Analysis

Clara Talboys is the sister of George Talboys who collaborates with and eventually marries Robert Audley. Clara resembles her brother and Robert describes her as handsome, her beauty made even greater by her passion. Robert first meets Clara when he visits her and George’s father, Harcourt Talboys, in order to consult with him about George’s disappearance. At first, Robert assumes Clara is as apathetic towards George as her father is. She then pursues Robert, however, and urges him to avenge her brother. Clara, like Lady Audley, shows how a woman can use her agency to exert influence over a man in order to get what she wants, as she drives Robert forward in his investigation when he wants to quit. Robert sees Clara as an example of how woman are often stronger and more hard-working than their male counterparts. The narrative rewards Clara’s agency, as at the end of the story, thanks to her efforts towards revenge, she has made a loving and advantageous marriage to Robert and has had her brother returned to her. This contrasts with Lady Audley’s fate of being committed to an asylum; Clara’s happy ending thus suggests that Victorian society rewarded female agency provided it fit in with larger societal expectations for female behavior.

Clara Talboys Quotes in Lady Audley’s Secret

The Lady Audley’s Secret quotes below are all either spoken by Clara Talboys or refer to Clara Talboys. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Lady Audley’s Secret published in 1987.
Volume 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

[Harcourt Talboys] was like his own square-built, northern-fronted, shelterless house. There were no shady nooks in his character into which one could creep for shelter from his hard daylight…with him right was right and wrong was wrong…He had cast off his only son because his only son had disobeyed him, and he was ready to cast off his only daughter at five minutes’ notice for the same reason.

Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Chapter 10 Quotes

I hope no one will take objection to my story because the end of it leaves the good people all happy and at peace. If my experience of life has not been very long, it has at least been manifold; and I can safely subscribe to that which a mighty king and a great philosopher declared, when he said that neither the experience of his youth nor of his age had ever shown him ‘righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.’

Page Number: 380
Explanation and Analysis:
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Clara Talboys Character Timeline in Lady Audley’s Secret

The timeline below shows where the character Clara Talboys appears in Lady Audley’s Secret. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 2, Chapter 4
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...exception. He cast off George, his only son and would just as soon cast off Clara, his daughter, if she violated his rules. He is proud of his inflexible nature, and... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...young, and that she was like George Talboys.” He realizes that it is George’s sister, Clara, whom George was fond of and who surely will care about George’s fate. (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Clara stands up to greet Robert, dropping her needlework. Harcourt tells her to sit down without... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...that George is dead, but he does not want to say it in front of Clara. Harcourt tells him to go ahead, and Robert decides that maybe this evidence will move... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert recounts the details of George’s disappearance. Neither Harcourt nor Clara show any emotion during his story, and Robert specifically leaves out the names of Sir... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert looks one last time at Clara, whose expression has still not changed. Robert says that he hopes Harcourt is right about... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 5
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert then sees Clara running toward him. He notices that Clara is “very handsome,” with eyes like George’s. Up... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Clara explains that she loved her brother but knew she would not be successful in trying... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Clara begs Robert to tell her the name of the woman he alluded to being involved... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Robert says Clara surely cannot be asking him to continue on in this miserable business of a murder... (full context)
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Clara explains that George was her only companion growing up, and that is why she wants... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert notes that unlike his pretty cousin or his lovely aunt, Clara is truly beautiful because her appearance is enhanced by her intense passion. Even her plain... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert asks if Clara has any old letters from George. Clara says that she will send them to him... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert tells Clara she should go inside because of the cold. She says cold is nothing to her... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 6
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
...right woman at the right time. He thinks about how he could have easily missed Clara when she came to talk to him, and then he would have abandoned George’s case... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Robert admits that he submits completely to Clara’s will. He expands his musings by stating that men are often lazy and indifferent, but... (full context)
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Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...his delivery of French novels, which he has no interest in, and a package from Clara. The package contains two letters from George. One, written right after his marriage, contains every... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 7
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...Alicia scolds him for being so dull and unintelligent. All Robert can think about is Clara and how he must return to his investigation. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 9
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert writes to Clara asking the name of the town where George met Helen and Mr. Maldon, since George... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
...one responsible if he tells him about Lady Audley’s secrets. But then he thinks of Clara “beckon[ing] him onwards to her brother’s unknown grave.” (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
When Robert goes to greet the organist, he discovers that Clara is the one playing the organ. She is visiting friends nearby. Clara comments that Robert... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Before Clara can discover more, Robert says goodbye. Clara reminds him he promised to write her if... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
As Clara leaves, she states that she knows Robert will do his duty to George and solve... (full context)
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Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Clara rejoins her friends, who tell her about the local baronet Sir Michael. They tell her... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 11
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert envisions Clara’s face, serious and honest in comparison to Lady Audley’s, and he is filled with determination... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 2
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...and her affection for him, but he has lost all romantic interest since he met Clara. He is so attached to Clara he cannot even think about another woman. He feels... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 4
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...he has done “all that he could do,” Robert goes to bed. He thinks of Clara and if she has heard of his heroic actions in the Castle Inn fire. In... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 7
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
...Vienna. He goes back to his apartment and finds letters from Sir Michael, Alicia, and Clara. Alicia’s letter says she called a doctor to examine her unusually quiet father, and the... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Clara’s letter states that Luke is in failing health and both he and Phoebe wish to... (full context)
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...his idle hobbies, and now he has felt both love and tragedy. He wonders how Clara would react if he told her his life found new purpose in solving George’s case,... (full context)
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...a criminal trial. Robert thinks the late-night journey is dreary, but he will do anything Clara asks of him. (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...he will do now that he knows George is dead. He knows if he sees Clara again, he will be compelled to tell the horrible truth—and that if he tells her,... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 8
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...sits by sleeping Luke’s bedside until daybreak. He thinks about how he can now tell Clara that George is alive. Robert leaves and goes to sleep in a hotel. When he... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 9
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Clara returns to her home to tell Harcourt that George sailed for Australia on September 9th... (full context)
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It is now springtime, and Robert strolls through the grounds where he met Clara that winter. Though the mansion is still rigid and cold, Robert is delighted to be... (full context)
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Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
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...and Robert feels jealous of the young men who undoubtedly also fall in love with Clara. While Robert and Clara were at first formal with each other, with time they develop... (full context)
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Robert asks Clara if she thinks he will never tire of his privileged hobbies. He is already planning... (full context)
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Robert cannot summon the courage to express his love to Clara, so after five weeks at the mansion, he announces his departure. Harcourt says he enjoyed... (full context)
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Robert dreads being away from Clara and is gloomy on his last day at the mansion. He is happy, though, when... (full context)
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Clara says she has no right to allow Robert to make such a sacrifice for her.... (full context)
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...Robert that if he brings back his son, he will forgive Robert for taking his daughter. (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 10
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...at school but often comes to the cottage to visit George, who lives there with Clara and Mr. Audley. Alicia and Sir Michael, having survived the latter’s grief, also come visit... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
...marries Sir Harry, and then he lives on his son-in-law’s estate. George lives happily with Clara and Mr. Audley and may even find someone to ease the pain of his first... (full context)