Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Lady Audley’s Secret: Volume 1, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Luke and Phoebe get married and move into their public house in the village of Mount Stanning. The public house, named the Castle Inn, is run down by constant wind. The roof is battered, the shutters are broken, and the walls are discolored. However, the inn had made a healthy profit under its previous owner.
Castle Inn—an ironically grandiose name for such a shabby place—expresses the Victorian upper-class fear that lower class individuals would rise to wealth and then create imitations of upper class luxuries.
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Phoebe cries as she and Luke leave their hometown. Luke says that she didn’t have to marry him and it’s not like he’s going to murder her. He then tells her that she will have to wear clothes more fitting to her station now that she is his wife.
Luke expresses the typical Victorian attitude that a man could dictate every aspect of his wife’s life, and also that one should present themselves according to their class.
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Christmastime brings many visitors to Audley Court, mainly young men there for hunting season. Robert is one such visitor. While the other young men are experienced hunters with fine horses and dogs, Robert seems more interested in his meals, his reading, and his smoking. Even Robert’s hunting dogs are strays.
Victorian gender expectations defined men’s activities as outside the home and women’s as inside. Therefore, Robert is slightly transgressing gender expectations by preferring to stay indoors.
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Robert prefers to stay inside chatting with Lady Audley. Alicia, who spends her days hunting, teases him for his passiveness and carelessness. She compares him to another guest, Sir Harry Towers, whom she believes “would go through fire and water for the girl he loves,” unlike Robert.
Alicia, unlike Robert, enjoys the typically masculine hobby of hunting, making her a character that defies gender expectations as well. Sir Harry, also a hunter, fits the ideal of a Victorian man.
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Robert thinks to himself about how 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.
Robert expresses the typical patriarchal views of Victorian society, stating that women should remain within the home for their moral development.
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Related Quotes
While Lady Audley draws, she and Robert chat about the increase in her fortunes and how she is wealthier now than the people she used to work for. Robert remarks, “It is a change! Some women would do a great deal to accomplish such as change as that.”
Robert becomes suspicious of Lady Audley because of her change of classes, thus expressing a common Victorian anxiety that the lower classes would do anything to gain wealth.
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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 Robert recounts all the evidence he has gathered about George’s disappearance. He states that he believes George never went to Southampton at all and Maldon is lying about seeing him.
Lady Audley, being the intelligent manipulator she is, tricks Robert into revealing all the details about the investigation that concern her (though Robert doesn’t yet know she is involved in George’s disappearance).
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Robert tells Lady Audley that, while he never cared for his profession as a barrister, he now feels compelled to investigate the circumstantial evidence before him. He explains that, while it may seem like mere scraps of information, when one links together all the seemingly disjointed pieces, circumstantial evidence is enough to convict someone of a crime.
Robert recognizes the change in his character now that he is working hard at his profession. This explanation of circumstantial evidence links the work with the genre of the detective novel, which was popular during the Victorian era.
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