Lady Audley’s Secret

Lady Audley’s Secret

by

Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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Lady Audley’s Secret: Volume 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lady Audley sleeps peacefully now that her enemy has defeated her. She hasn’t relaxed since George announced his return from Australia shortly after her second marriage, but now the burden of her secrets is gone. She doesn’t care about the pain she caused others. The next morning, she eats breakfast like a resigned prisoner. She looks around her apartment and thinks how sad she will be to leave her expensive possessions. She admires her reflection in the mirror. The unnatural light in her face is gone, leaving only her natural beauty that no one can take from her. Lady Audley dresses herself in expensive clothes, clinging to the luxury she fought so hard to attain.
Lady Audley’s relief shows that secrets and deception effect the participants as well as the victims of the schemes. She still does not care for anyone besides herself, and only regrets that she will lose the status and luxury her crimes earned her. She also maintains a vain appreciation of her own appearance. The plot has not changed the selfishness or materialism of her character—the only change is the calm relief that has overtaken her.
Themes
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Dr. Mosgrave arrives at Audley Court. Robert ensures the doctor’s findings will remain confidential and that the doctor’s specialty is treating insanity. Robert recounts the story Lady Audley told last night and Mosgrave listens calmly. Mosgrave asks if Robert wishes to “prove that this lady is mad, and therefore irresponsible for her actions.” Robert says yes, thinking how he would like to avoid a murder trial.
Like Lady Audley, Robert uses accusations of madness as a tool for his own self-interest. He does not accuse Lady Audley of madness because he believes this is the truth and he wants to get her help, but instead because he doesn’t want to put Sir Michael and the Audley family name through the disgrace of a public trial.
Themes
Madness Theme Icon
Dr. Mosgrave says he will examine Lady Audley but he doesn’t believe she is mad. All her actions came from a desperate situation and she showed intelligence and calm in her schemes. Madness is not always transmitted from mother to daughter. He recommends Robert send Lady Audley back to her first husband. Robert then confesses the second half of the story he has been hiding, about George’s disappearance. Dr. Mosgrave asks to speak wish Lady Audley alone.
Dr. Mosgrave’s statement contradicts much of what both Robert and Lady Audley have previously stated about madness, specifically the fear that madness is always passed on from parent to child. His advice also shows the complete control most husbands had over their wives’ lives in the Victorian era, as they could act as both judge and imprisoner if they so wished.
Themes
Women and Power in Victorian England Theme Icon
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Poverty and Wealth Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Dr. Mosgrave returns from examining Lady Audley and declares she suffers from “latent insanity,” meaning that, in times of stress, she suffers from mania. He states, however, that Lady Audley is not mad. He adds that she is still dangerous, and that Robert wouldn’t succeed in a criminal case because there’s no evidence that George is dead. Robert says his greatest concern is avoiding bringing disgrace on his family.
Dr. Mosgrave’s comments show the complicated assumptions made about madness in the Victorian era. Madness was not necessarily synonymous with mental illness or insanity, and just because one commits a violent crime does not mean that one is necessarily mad.
Themes
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
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Dr. Mosgrave writes a letter to his colleague, Monsieur Val, who runs an asylum abroad, asking him to admit Lady Audley for life. Mosgrave says this is the best way to separate Lady Audley from society, which must be done for everyone’s safety.
This is another example of accusations of madness being used as a tool, as Mosgrave is committing Lady Audley not because she is actually insane, but because that is the best way to separate her from others.
Themes
Madness Theme Icon