Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Audley Court Symbol Icon

Audley Court represents both the deterioration of the upper class and of the vulnerable Victorian ideal of the family home. Though the mansion is historic and stately, it shows clear signs of wear through its ruined walls and crumbling gables. The mansion’s decaying exterior reflects the moral decay of the upper class, as men like Robert Audley fill their time with idle hobbies and lower-class individuals like Lady Audley infiltrate their ranks. During the Victorian era, economic boom and the rise of the middle class within England led many members of the upper class to fear that social climbers would lead to the destruction of their privileged way of life—a fear that proves apt as Lady Audley tears through Audley Court. At the beginning of the novel, however, when the Audleys appear to live in domestic bliss, the mansion also represents the Victorian ideal of home. Victorian England celebrated the home as a place of safety and harmony for the family, and Audley Court’s physical and figurative destruction thus represents of the dissolution of this ideal. Braddon chips away at the perception of the home as a safe and loving space by setting many of the novels horrible events in Audley Court. It is where Lady Audley and her stepdaughter Alicia refuse to get along as family, for example, effectively estranging Alicia from Sir Michael. Lady Audley attempts to murder George Talboys on the Court’s grounds. She also later plots to kill Robert and makes her final confession in Audley Court, forever shattering Sir Michael’s vision of his happy, domestic life. At the end of the novel, Audley Court is empty, a relic of a time past, foreshadowing the end of both the upper class and the concept of the perfect family home.

Audley Court Quotes in Lady Audley’s Secret

The Lady Audley’s Secret quotes below all refer to the symbol of Audley Court. 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

To the right there were the kitchen gardens, the fish-pond, and an orchard bordered by a dry moat, and a broken ruin of a wall, in some places thicker than it was high, and everywhere overgrown with trailing ivy…to the left there was a broad graveled walk…and shadowed on one side by goodly oaks, which shut out the flat landscape, and circled in the house and gardens with a darkening shelter.

Related Symbols: Audley Court
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

“I hate women…They’re bold, brazen, abominable creatures, invented for the annoyance and destruction of their superiors. Look at this business of poor George’s! It’s all woman’s work from one end to the other. He marries a woman, and his father casts him off, penniless and professionless. He hears of the woman’s death and he breaks his heart…He goes to a woman’s house and he is never seen alive again.”

Related Symbols: Audley Court
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

Lucy Audley looked up from her occupation amongst the fragile china cups, and watched Robert rather anxiously, as he walked softly to his uncle’s room, and back again to the boudoir. She looked very pretty and innocent, seated behind the graceful group of delicate opal china and glittering silver. Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea. The most feminine and most domestic of all occupations imparts a magic harmony to her every movement, a witchery to her every glance.

Related Symbols: Audley Court
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:
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Audley Court Symbol Timeline in Lady Audley’s Secret

The timeline below shows where the symbol Audley Court appears in Lady Audley’s Secret. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Chapter 1
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Audley Court sits in a secluded country hallow, its dry moat and ruined wall standing out among... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
The layout of the “ noble place ” is confusing and one can easily get lost. Once, the daughter of current owner... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Near Audley Court , thick trees cover a lime-tree walkway, making it seem like a place where “a... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...lady of the household. When Sir Michael remarried, his new wife became the lady of Audley Court , usurping Alicia’s authority and causing a rift between stepdaughter and stepmother. (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Lady Audley used to be a governess for a surgeon’s family in a village near Audley Court . No one knows anything about her past. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 3
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Sunset falls upon Audley Court , casting the house in deep shades of red. The landscape is still and quiet.... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 4
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...Audley, his only thought concerns whether or not their fighting will ruin his stay at Audley Court during hunting season. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 7
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Robert suggests he and George go hunting at Audley Court . Robert admits that he does not like hunting but wants to enjoy his uncle’s... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...have “great rough men” visit. Robert says they can go to Essex (the neighborhood of Audley Court ) to stay in a hotel and go fishing. Robert places Alicia’s letter in his... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
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...and Robert go 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... (full context)
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Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
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Back at Audley Court , Phoebe attends to Lady Audley. Lady Audley is much friendlier with her maid than... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 8
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...miss their train because Robert has a headache, so they decide to visit Alicia at Audley Court . Alicia shows them around the house, but when she asks Phoebe if they could... (full context)
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As George and Robert leave Audley Court , they pass Lady Audley’s covered carriage. Lady Audley sticks her head out, unable to... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 9
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The storm actually does come to Audley Court and the nearby village that night. Robert spends the storm in his usual laziness, while... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
At Audley Court , Lady Audley has been up all night, claiming she was afraid of lightning and... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...next to 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... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 10
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...Robert and George to dinner, so Robert thinks George might have already gone ahead to Audley Court . (full context)
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At Audley Court , a servant tells Robert that George was there at two o’clock but has not... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 13
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...list and then places it in his desk. He decides he will go back to Audley Court to look for George. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 14
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Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Lady Audley scolds Phoebe for her association with Luke, who has become a groom at Audley Court and whom Lady Audley considers to be ugly. Phoebe says she does not love Luke... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 15
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Christmastime brings many visitors to Audley Court , mainly young men there for hunting season. Robert is one such visitor. While the... (full context)
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A week after Robert arrives at Audley Court , Lady Audley asks if Robert has heard anything from George. She listens intently while... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 16
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Christmastime ends and the visitors gradually begin to leave Audley Court . Robert does not leave, however, and Sir Michael says he can stay as long... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
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Harry leaves Audley Court heartbroken. He laments that his wealth is of no use since he has no one... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 17
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...has cheaply made, thin plaster walls. It is a dramatic change from the riches of Audley Court , but Robert does not care since he has his German pipe, his French novels,... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 18
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...she assumes that Robert does not accept her apology and won’t be coming back to Audley Court . Robert says he will return to London tomorrow to find George’s letters. He escorts... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...at the inn’s bar. Robert asks the driver if he took the lady back to Audley Court . The driver says that he actually took the lady to the railroad station, so... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 7
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Robert rushes to Audley Court . He notices that the bare trees surrounding Audley Court look like “ghostly arms” in... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
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At Audley Court , Robert walks through the room with the portraits. Lady Audley’s portrait, with a mocking... (full context)
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...novel. Robert announces that he will leave tomorrow morning for London, but will return to Audley Court the next day. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 9
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...connect Helen Talboys to Lady Audley. He knows he must eventually bring this evidence to Audley Court , but the thought of bringing destruction to his own family causes him great pain.... (full context)
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That night, Robert dreams of Audley Court being transported from the peaceful countryside of Essex to the northern sea shore. As waves... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
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Robert decides that he must confront Lady Audley at Audley Court . When he arrives at the mansion, however, the lady is away shopping. Robert laments... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 11
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Back at Audley Court , Robert runs into Lady Audley and Alicia. Robert finds Alicia more annoying than usual.... (full context)
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Robert says George’s ghost haunts Audley Court . Lady Audley says Robert must be suffering from monomania since he keeps talking about... (full context)
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...and honest in comparison to Lady Audley’s, and he is filled with determination to save Audley Court from Lady Audley’s evil. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 12
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Madness Theme Icon
...some violent crime. She declares Robert is mad because he thinks George was murdered at Audley Court . (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 1
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When they are less than a mile away from Audley Court , Phoebe spots the fire off in the distance. Phoebe is horrified, certain it’s the... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 2
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...is still troubled by the dream she had during her nap, about a river connecting Audley Court and Mount Stanning. Then she wishes news of the fire would come and her agony... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 4
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Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
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...loss and his daughter must comfort him. Alicia must accompany Sir Michael when he leaves Audley Court because he is separated from his wife forever. Robert urges Alicia to never mention Lady... (full context)
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...sits down in front of the fireplace, wondering at how such a pleasant place as Audley Court has been transformed into a house full of despair. He doesn’t know what to do... (full context)
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...a servant to send a telegram to London asking for a doctor to come to Audley Court . (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 5
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Dr. Mosgrave arrives at Audley Court . Robert ensures the doctor’s findings will remain confidential and that the doctor’s specialty is... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 7
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...for not buying them a better inn. She asks if Lady Audley is gone from Audley Court forever, and if she will be treated well wherever she is now. Robert answers yes.... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 8
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Luke says that on the 7th of September he went to visit Phoebe at Audley Court . As he snuck through the lime-walk, he heard a man groaning in the bushes.... (full context)
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Luke then went to Audley Court to visit Phoebe in the garden. When he tried to sit on the well, Phoebe... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 10
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Audley Court is empty except for a “grim old housekeeper” in place of Lady Audley. A curtain... (full context)