Lady Audley has confessed herself to be . . . A MADWOMAN.
|Not buying it.|
Here’s what I think is the deal with Helen/Lucy. She grew up with the constant reminder that her mother was mad and that madness is hereditary; so she always expected to be suddenly struck with the manifestation of this latent genetic curse.
Perhaps because she had this horrible shadow always looming, she lived her life selfishly. She did some things because they served her interests and didn’t do other things because they didn’t, but there was nothing criminal about her selfishness—until that moment when she stood by the well and her dilemma had a human face. And isn’t it much more convenient to say, “Well I wasn’t mad all the years leading up to that moment, but in that moment I WAS MAD”? Because now it’s not her fault she murdered George Talboys. He bellowed at her and upset the precarious balance of her sanity is all.
I do, however, believe that Braddon has written us a lady sociopath. She admits to Robert that she’s never been good with emotions. And the way she describes love—mainly in terms of what the other person can give her—shows that she has no real comprehension of how love works. The crisis that followed the birth of Little George sounds a lot to me like postpartum depression, which I’m sure was not improved by her waking up one day to find her husband gone. And then, further cementing her status as an “unnatural woman,” she could not love her child.
But she is so clever at hiding her inability to connect emotionally with other people. She understands that no one would accept this absence of feeling in her when it so harshly contradicts the Victorian ideal for women, so she giggles and smiles her arse off and acts like a perfect infant to disarm everyone.
The doctor whom Rob brought in to pronounce Lucy insane said a lot of things that were clearly bull-fritters (latent insanity is maybe not a thing), but in the end I think this was a reasonable diagnosis:
“She has the cunning of madness, with the prudence of intelligence. I will tell you what she is, Mr. Audley. She is dangerous!”
Don’t fear the person who rages and breaks things and yells “I AM MAD I AM MAD I TELL YOU.” Fear the person who calmly touches a flame to the curtains.
Well now I’ve gone on about Helen/Lucy and haven’t said a thing about anyone else. GOOD THING THIS IS A READALONG.
But I will just say this one thing: The real surprise twist for me isn’t that George Talboys is still alive; it’s that Luke Marks is the hero of the story.
|Still a jerk though.|