Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Lady Audley’s Secret: Volume 2, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Robert walks alone and contemplates the nature of happiness. He remarks on how little time one is truly happy and how fondly one thinks of that little happiness. He determines that happiness is completely accidental. Consider marriage: for one to be happy in marriage, one must meet the 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 forever.
Victorian society expected marriages to be made based on a match of both personality and status, so that the marriage would lead to lasting harmony and happiness for those involved and their families. Robert contradicts this expectation by saying that happiness in life and in marriage is completely random.
Themes
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Robert thinks how life is often cruelly indifferent to the plight of humans. He wonders why more people are not in mad-houses, given that one can feel so much sorrow even as the outside world goes on in a calm, orderly fashion. He remembers that people go on day to day shifting between sanity and madness.
Robert’s musings about how one’s circumstances lead madness will align with Lady Audley’s later argument that her life aggravated her madness. Also, peaceful atmospheres surrounding troubled minds are another example of deceptive appearances.
Themes
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Madness 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 women, being active and passionate, drive them towards the work needed for society. Women are the stronger sex and since they cannot hold much power in society, women instead rule over the domestic sphere. Robert argues that women should be allowed in the public sphere.
Victorian society viewed women as the weaker sex who should not be involved in any sort of leadership. Robert argues that this perception of women is false, given that strong women already influence the men in their lives for the advancement of society.
Themes
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Robert then states that he hates women, calling them “bold, brazen, abominable creatures, invented for the annoyance and destruction of their superiors.” Take George for an example. He married a woman and lost his inheritance. He goes to a woman’s house and disappears. Robert also thinks of Alicia, who will no doubt force him to marry her.
While Robert acknowledges women’s influence, he observes that this influence isn’t always positive, especially if the woman in question is morally weak. He reveals his patriarchal bias here, blaming a woman for actions that were clearly the decisions of men.
Themes
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Robert returns to Fig-tree Court to find 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 minute detail of his wife. Robert states that George couldn’t have known how this description would later be a clue in a criminal investigation.
Robert is no longer interested in his idle pursuits, despite his previous wishes to return to his privileged life, showing Clara’s influence over his character. George’s letter shows how crime can become wrapped up in ordinary, seemingly innocent life.
Themes
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Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon