Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Sir Michael Audley Character Analysis

Sir Michael is the second husband of Lady Audley, the father of Alicia Audley, and the uncle of Robert Audley. At the beginning of the novel, he is an old, wealthy widower who falls in love with the poor governess Lucy Graham. He tells Lucy only to marry him if she returns his feelings and not to consider his wealth and status in comparison to her own. The two marry, and all their neighbors in Essex consider their union to be very romantic. Sir Michael himself is happy and protective of his young and beautiful new wife. For a while, he and Lady Audley appear to be living the ideal of a Victorian marriage. This ideal is revealed to be an illusion, however, as Robert begins to unravel Lady Audley’s secrets of bigamy and attempted murder. As Robert draws closer to discovering the truth, Lady Audley repeatedly uses Sir Michael’s love for her to keep Robert away from Audley Court, and, failing that, finally tries to convince Sir Michael that Robert is mad. Sir Michael listens to and sides with Lady Audley, showing how a woman can use her agency to influence men for her own self-interest. When Lady Audley finally confesses her crimes to Sir Michael, he is devastated and flees to continental Europe with his daughter in order to recover.

Sir Michael Audley Quotes in Lady Audley’s Secret

The Lady Audley’s Secret quotes below are all either spoken by Sir Michael Audley or refer to Sir Michael Audley. 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 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

“You know that nobody asks you to marry Sir Michael unless you wish. Of course it would be a magnificent match; he has a splendid income, and is one of the most generous of men. Your position would be very high, and you would be enabled to do a great deal of good; but, as I said before, you must be entirely guided by your own feelings.”

Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

“Mr. Audley may be as you say, merely eccentric; but he has talked to me this evening in a manner that has filled me with absolute terror, and I believe that he is going mad. I shall speak very seriously to Sir Michael this very night…I shall only put him on his guard, my dear Alicia.”

“But he’ll never believe you,” said Miss Audley, “He will laugh at such an idea.”

“No, Alicia; he will believe anything that I tell him.”

Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Chapter 3 Quotes

“The place was indeed select. I had not been there a month before I discovered that even the prettiest girl might wait a long time for a rich husband. I wish to hurry over this part of my life: I dare say I was very despicable. You and your nephew, Sir Michael, have been rich all your lives, and can well afford to despise me; but I knew how far poverty can affect a life, and I looked forward with a sick terror to a life so affected.”

Page Number: 299
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:
Get the entire Lady Audley’s Secret LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Audley’s Secret PDF

Sir Michael Audley Character Timeline in Lady Audley’s Secret

The timeline below shows where the character Sir Michael Audley appears in Lady Audley’s Secret. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Chapter 1
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Sir Michael Audley likes to stroll up and down the lime-tree walk in the evening with his “pretty... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
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Sir Michael is 56 years old and married Lady Audley, his second wife, a year ago. He... (full context)
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...a governess. Everyone in the village thought her to be extremely beautiful, charming, and kind. Sir Michael fell helplessly in love with her. (full context)
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As he courted Lucy, Sir Michael didn’t think his status and wealth would influence her attitude towards him because she seemed... (full context)
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Lucy was so used to being adored that she barely noticed Sir Michael ’s attention. Mrs. Dawson, her employer, told her that while marrying Sir Michael would be... (full context)
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Sir Michael told Lucy she should only marry him if she loved him. She said he asked... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 3
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...from childhood. They remark on how much money Lady Audley has now that she’s married Sir Michael and how wonderful it would be if they too had wealth. (full context)
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Since Lady Audley and Sir Michael are away, Luke proposes that he and Phoebe look at all Lady Audley’s finery. Inside,... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 4
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...(lawyer) but has never actually done any work for his job. The only son of Sir Michael ’s brother, he is handsome and lazy. He enjoys smoking his German pipe and reading... (full context)
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Robert is beloved by his uncle Sir Michael and his cousin Alicia. While Alicia, as the heiress to a great estate,... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 7
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...at Audley Court. Robert admits that he does not like hunting but wants to enjoy his uncle ’s company and meet his new aunt. George passively agrees to go with him, as... (full context)
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...to the decaying village of Audley, three-quarters of a mile away from Audley Court. Meanwhile, Sir Michael has transformed the interior of the mansion with luxurious decorations to compliment his pretty wife.... (full context)
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...that people in the countryside commit murders just as violent as those in the city. Sir Michael , Alicia, and Lady Audley pass through the village and Robert runs out to greet... (full context)
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...that Mrs. Vincent is very ill and wants to see Lady Audley before she dies. Sir Michael says he will go with her. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 8
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...because of the night’s darkness. The carriage passes the men and continues into Audley Court. Sir Michael remarks that “the storm will hold off to-night…but we shall certainly have it tomorrow.” (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 9
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...the stream. While he is asleep, George abandons his fishing and goes to Audley Court. Sir Michael and Alicia are out of the house and Lady Audley is on the lime-walk. George... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 10
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...he discovers George has not been back to the hotel. The hotel landlord tells him Sir Michael stopped by to invite Robert and George to dinner, so Robert thinks George might have... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 11
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Robert joins Sir Michael , Lady Audley, and Alicia in the drawing room, announcing that George has gone back... (full context)
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Over dinner, Lady Audley tells Robert about how when she and Sir Michael went to find Mrs. Vincent in London, they could not locate her. Mrs. Vincent had... (full context)
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Robert says goodbye to Sir Michael , Lady Audley, and Alicia, telling them that he will go back to London to... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 14
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Sir Michael reads aloud to Lady Audley and Alicia from an ad Robert has put in the... (full context)
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...doesn’t mean she is evil. Clearly, Alicia and Lady Audley will never be friends, and Sir Michael is often away from home, so Lady Audley has no friend but Phoebe. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 15
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...Alicia is beautiful and has a troublesome temper. He says this is the consequence of Sir Michael allowing her to ride and hunt freely in the country. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 16
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...and the visitors gradually begin to leave Audley Court. Robert does not leave, however, and Sir Michael says he can stay as long as he likes. Sir Harry Towers, one of the... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
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...strong-minded, smart wife, but not too strong-minded and smart. As Harry was leaving, he and Sir Michael spoke briefly of Alicia’s complicated situation with her cousin, given that Robert seems not to... (full context)
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Lady Audley asks Sir Michael how long Robert will be staying with him. She implies that Robert’s attentions toward such... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 4
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...Clara show any emotion during his story, and Robert specifically leaves out the names of Sir Michael and Lady Audley. He then asks Harcourt if his opinion has changed. Harcourt says no.... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 7
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...the decadent hobbies of his barrister friends. He worries about the “dark cloud” brooding over Sir Michael ’s house and wonders when his uncle’s life will be inevitably ruined. He wishes that... (full context)
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Alicia writes to Robert telling him Sir Michael is sick (though not deathly ill) and would like to see his nephew. Robert is... (full context)
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...arms” in the “chill winter twilight.” He worries what would happen to Audley Court if Sir Michael should die. (full context)
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...portrait, with a mocking smile and “tangled glitter of golden hair,” is finished. Robert finds Sir Michael in his bedroom, with Alicia and Lady Audley sitting by his side. The narrator remarks... (full context)
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 Alicia and Lady Audley greet Robert while Sir Michael is still asleep. Robert studies Lady Audley’s face, attempting to detect her trickery. He mentions... (full context)
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Sir Michael awakes and tells Robert that he must get along with his aunt. Robert assures him... (full context)
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Mr. Dawson arrives and examines Sir Michael . As he leaves, Robert follows him out and asks him about Lady Audley’s past.... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 8
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As Robert goes to Mrs. Vincent’s new home, he imagines Sir Michael lying asleep while Lady Audley plays music. He thinks it would be a pleasant image,... (full context)
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...him. He thinks to himself that what he has found today is enough to convince Sir Michael that Lady Audley is a “designing and infamous woman.” (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 9
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
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...roll towards the mansion, Lady Audley emerges from the water, looking like a mermaid, beckoning Sir Michael toward destruction. Dark clouds gather over the sea, but then the clouds part as a... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
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Robert receives a letter Alicia stating that Sir Michael is feeling better and both he and Lady Audley wish to have Robert back at... (full context)
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Robert is again overcome with worry about Sir Michael ’s ruin, fearing that he himself will be the one responsible if he tells him... (full context)
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...not ill, but troubled. He wonders if Clara is suspicious of his attempts to hide Sir Michael and Lady Audley’s identities. He thinks that he and Clara are unequally matched because of... (full context)
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Clara rejoins her friends, who tell her about the local baronet Sir Michael . They tell her that Sir Michael recently married a poor young governess. Clara asks... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 11
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...can be. He knows he is unequally matched against this beautiful, dangerous woman. He knows Sir Michael would believe Robert is mad before he believes that Lady Audley is guilty. (full context)
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...She tells Alicia that Robert is mad. Alicia doesn’t believe her, but Lady Audley says Sir Michael will. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 12
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Lady Audley goes into the library to see Sir Michael , who loves her purely and generously. Sir Michael asks what Lady Audley has been... (full context)
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Lady Audley begins to cry, worrying Sir Michael . The very real anguish Lady Audley feels overcomes her and she cannot speak. Her... (full context)
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Sir Michael is shocked and says he will go to Mount Stanning to determine whether or not... (full context)
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Sir Michael says Robert will come visit tomorrow. He adds that he really doesn’t believe that Robert... (full context)
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Lady Audley says Robert accused her of being involved in George’s disappearance. Sir Michael finally agrees that Robert must be mad, and says he will send someone to Mount... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 13
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...change. Lady Audley keeps to her rooms and Alicia spends most of her time outdoors. Sir Michael and Alicia’s relationship suffers because of the animosity between stepdaughter and stepmother. Lonely Alicia cannot... (full context)
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Per Lady Audley’s advice, Sir Michael remains indoors. She cares for him until bedtime and then returns to her own chambers,... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 1
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Sir Michael sleeps peacefully and Lady Audley feels a brief moment of pity for him. But her... (full context)
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Despite her confidence in Sir Michael , Lady Audley still fears that Robert will expose her unless some calamity silences him.... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 2
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Alicia rambles on about Robert’s poor manners. Sir Michael listens thoughtfully, understanding that Alicia insults Robert because she loves him. Sir Michael mentions that... (full context)
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Sir Michael contemplates how his beloved wife told him about Robert’s sanity while she was in a... (full context)
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The more Sir Michael thinks, the more he becomes convinced Robert must be mad not to love the pretty,... (full context)
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...When she awakens, she dresses herself in her best silk, despite her misery. She finds Sir Michael asleep, so she asks Alicia to take a walk with her. (full context)
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...come and her agony would be over. She continues wishing someone would come and tell Sir Michael that Robert is dead. (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 3
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Lady Audley tells Robert to bring Sir Michael in, because Robert has won. She then says that he has conquered a mad woman.... (full context)
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Robert goes to Sir Michael , telling him that Lady Audley has deceived him and now wishes to make her... (full context)
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...returned to take her to school, but she had already felt “the bitterness of poverty.” Sir Michael listens to this story in shock, as it is completely different from the previous backstory... (full context)
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...remote town. She grew impatient while waiting for a rich husband. She says Robert and Sir Michael have been rich their whole lives, so they cannot know how poverty impacts one’s life. (full context)
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Finally, a rich suitor arrived. His name was George Talboys (at this name, Sir Michael starts). George fell in love with Lady Audley and she loved him as much as... (full context)
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Sir Michael ’s romantic image of courting his wife shatters with this story. He remembers the “vague... (full context)
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...came up with the fake name of Lucy Graham. When she came to Essex and Sir Michael proposed, she felt she had fulfilled the ambition she’d had ever since she first realized... (full context)
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Lady Audley says she delighted in her new status and was grateful to Sir Michael . She donated to the less fortunate, empathizing with them since she was once poor.... (full context)
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Sir Michael says he cannot listen anymore. He tells Robert to arrange to provide for the woman... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 4
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Robert worries about Sir Michael ’s quiet devastation. He fears Sir Michael in his old age might collapse from despair,... (full context)
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Robert goes to tell Sir Michael that Alicia will accompany him. At first, Sir Michael wishes to go alone, but then... (full context)
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...room because she is sick. As the maid leads her away, Lady Audley asks if Sir Michael is gone, and if anyone died in the Castle Inn fire. Robert says no one... (full context)
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...into a house full of despair. He doesn’t know what to do next. Alicia and Sir Michael come to say goodbye. Robert promises Sir Michael he will do what needs to be... (full context)
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...happened based on the few scraps of gossip they could gather. They suspect Robert told Sir Michael of the death of a relative or a loss of family funds. They settle on... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 6
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...for telling the lie that broke his heart. He said he would expose her to Sir Michael , but George didn’t know she was mad and therefore dangerous. (full context)
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Lady Audley told George she would convince Sir Michael that George was a madman and a liar. She tried to leave but George grabbed... (full context)
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...Audley says she is making this confession now because she knows Robert would not put Sir Michael through a criminal trial, and no trial could sentence her to anything worse than a... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 7
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Bewildered, Robert travels back to England. He wonders if and how he will tell Sir Michael that the woman his uncle once loved is a murderer. He agonizes over what to... (full context)
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Robert arrives in London and goes to the hotel Sir Michael and Alicia were staying at, only to discover that they have left for Vienna. He... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 10
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...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 the cottage. (full context)
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Sir Michael lives in London until Alicia marries Sir Harry, and then he lives on his son-in-law’s... (full context)