Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Lady Audley’s Golden Curls Symbol Analysis

Lady Audley’s Golden Curls Symbol Icon

Lady Audley’s golden curls represent the deceptive nature of appearances. Characters such as Sir Michael and Robert Audley interpret Lady Audley’s bouncy curls as evidence of her innocent, childlike nature. Braddon often describes Lady Audley’s hair as looking like a halo, further underscoring the notion of her looks as reflective of her supposedly angelic spirit. In reality, Lady Audley uses the beautiful and childlike elements of her appearance, like her curls, to make socially advantageous yet doomed marriages with both George Talboys and Sir Michael. As Robert reveals the secrets of Lady Audley’s past, the reader sees how her beautiful curls hide the sinister, scheming mind underneath. In fact, as the plot reveals more details about Lady Audley’s deceptions, Braddon even describes Lady Audley’s hair, once deemed a halo, as looking like fire—a comparison the evokes images of rage and hell, and which suggests how much the perception of Lady Audley’s appearance has changed with the revelation of her sins.

Lady Audley’s Golden Curls Quotes in Lady Audley’s Secret

The Lady Audley’s Secret quotes below all refer to the symbol of Lady Audley’s Golden Curls. 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 7 Quotes

Lucy was better loved and more admired than the baronet’s daughter [Alicia]. That very childness had a charm which few could resist. The innocence and candour of an infant beamed in Lady Audley’s fair face, and shone out of her large and liquid blue eyes. The rosy lips, the delicate nose, the profusion of fair ringlets, all contributed to preserve to her beauty the character of extreme youth and freshness.

Related Symbols: Lady Audley’s Golden Curls
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do you know, Phoebe, I have heard some people say you and I are alike?”

“I have heard them say so too, my lady…but they must be very stupid to say it, for your ladyship is a beauty, and I’m a poor plain creature.”

“Not at all, Phoebe…you are like me…it is only colour that you want. My hair is pale yellow shot with gold, yours is drab…Why, with a bottle of hair dye, such as we see advertised in the papers, and a pot of rouge, you’d be as good-looking as I any day, Phoebe.”

Related Symbols: Lady Audley’s Golden Curls
Page Number: 54-55
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid lightness to the blonde complexion and a stranger, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait.

Related Symbols: Lady Audley’s Golden Curls
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lady Audley’s Golden Curls Symbol Timeline in Lady Audley’s Secret

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lady Audley’s Golden Curls appears in Lady Audley’s Secret. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Chapter 5
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...would ask for her and not for him. The landlady gives George a lock of hair she cut off of Helen’s dead body. George notes that his wife’s hair was always... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 7
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...grows. Everyone else in the neighborhood adores Lady Audley, whose rosy lips, button nose, and golden curls give her an innocent, youthful beauty. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 1
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Robert studies George’s books. In one, he finds a lock of hair, which has a similar color but different texture than the lock of hair the Southampton... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 7
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...with the portraits. Lady Audley’s 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... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 8
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...kept her personal information a secret “in spite of her innocent ways and her curly hair.” Mrs. Vincent reveals that Lucy came with no reference, saying she had quarreled with her... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...and what she looks like. The friends tell her about Lady Audley’s childish beauty and golden curls . Clara falls silent, remembering the description of Helen from George’s letter to his sister. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 13
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
...She sits down to think. If an artist walked in, he would see this beautiful, golden-haired woman surrounded by all her expensive teacups, cabinets, flowers, and mirrors. Despite all her finery,... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Lady Audley twirls her golden hair around her fingers and makes “as if she would have torn them from her head.”... (full context)
Volume 3, Chapter 1
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
...Lady Audley until she turns towards him and stuns him with her beauty. Her wind-blown hair resembles flames and her eyes look like those of “an angry mermaid.” (full context)