Literature Help: Lady Audley's Secret by Students' Academy by Students' Academy - Read Online

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Literature Help - Students' Academy

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Chapter One: Introduction

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon was first published in 1862. It is a thrilling story, filled with sensation. It is said to be the author’s most successful novel. The plot is mainly focused on accidental bigamy. It used to be one of the most prevalent themes in the literary works during the early 1960s.

Famous critic Elaine Showalter summarized the novel by saying that the bigamous heroine deserts her child, pushes husband number one down a well, thinks about giving poison to her second husband, and sets fire to a hotel where her other male friend was residing.

The themes of the novel are inspired by the real life Constance Kent case of June 1860. That particular case continued to be a topic of discussion for several years in the country.

The story is set in Ingatestone Hall, Essex. The author had once visited the place and was greatly inspired by it.

The novel has been made into three silent movies and it was made into a television film in the year 2000. The book has also been adapted for the stage three times.

Since the book was a sensation fiction and it was very popular, the critics of the time were mostly nervous while giving their comments. In those days, sensation fiction used to be given extremely bad comments by the contemporary press.

For all that, only a few initial reviews were negative, but as the novel gained popularity, most of the reviews received were positive. It is not that there was no criticism; the book was criticized by many of the critics who probably did not understand why the book was gaining so much of popularity.

In the academic circles, the book has its distinct place, and it has become widely read and widely taught in colleges around the world.

In many of the colleges in the English speaking countries, the book has been included in the course of study for the students of English literature.

Chapter Two: Plot Overview

It is the month of June in 1857. Lucy Graham happens to be a very beautiful but childlike blonde. She is getting married. People who meet are enchanted by her. She is getting married to Sir Michael Audley.;

Sir Audley is a rich middle-aged man. He is a widower, very kind in his nature. Lucy used to be a governess working at Mr. Dawson’s before her marriage. Mr. Dawson is the local doctor.

Before begin the governess, she was working for Mrs. Vincent, but there is nothing much in the narrative about Lucy’s past.

Robert Dudley is the nephew of Sir Michael Audley. Near the time of the marriage, Robert Audley, who happens to be a barrister, welcomes his old friend George Talboys. He has come back to England after three years from Australia where he had been gold prospecting.

Helen is George’s wife. He is anxious to know about her. He had left his wife three years before when he was in a very bad financial situation. Being desperate he had gone to Australia to search gold.

Through a newspaper, George learns that Helen has passed away. He goes to her home to confirm it. He is absolutely despondent.

Robert Audley really cares for George and he wants to distract his friend from his grief by offering to take him to his rich uncle’s country manor.

George happens to have a child named Georgey. The child had been left under the care of Lieutenant Maldon, George’s father in law. Robert and George go to visit Georgey.

In the meantime, George decides to appoint Robert his child’s guardian and caretaker of twenty thousand pounds he has already put into the boy’s name. When the matter of his son’s guardianship is settled, George and his friend Robert visit Sir Michael.

When they happen to be present at the country manor Audley Court, Lady Audley does not come in front of George. She avoids meeting him. When Robert and George want to meet the new Lady Audley, she simply makes excuses to avoid them, but George and Robert get a chance to see her portrait made by Alicia Audley, Robert’s cousin.

Robert does not notice that George is greatly stuck by the portrait. Robert thinks that his friend is reacting to the evening’s storm. Soon after that, George disappears. He has left Robert behind.

Robert is upset. He does not