Lady Audleys Secret Essay

2367 words - 9 pages


The Style and Genre of Lady Audley’s Secret

     Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, is a novel of many elements. It has been placed in many different style or genre categories since its publication. I feel that it best fits under the melodrama or sensational genre, and under the subgenre of mystery. It contains significant elements of both types of writing, so I feel it is best to recognize both, keeping in mind that melodrama is its main device and mystery is a type of Victorian melodrama. In order to understand how the story fits into these categories, it is necessary to explore the Victorian characteristics of each, and apply them to the text. In addition to establishing the genres, it is important to explain why and how these genres fit into Victorian culture.
     The term melodrama has come to be applied to any play with romantic plot in which an author manipulates events to act on the emotions of the audience without regard for character development or logic (Microsoft Encarta). In order to classify as a Victorian melodrama, several key techniques must be used, including proximity and familiarity to the audience, deceit rather than vindictive malice, lack of character development and especially the role of social status.
The sensational novel is usually a tale of our own times. Proximity is indeed one great element of sensation. A tale which aims to electrify the nerves of the reader is never thoroughly effective unless the scene be laid out in our own days and among the people we are in the habit of meeting. In keeping with mid-Victorian themes, Lady Audley’s Secret is closely connected to the street literature and newspaper accounts of real crimes. The crimes in Braddon’s novel are concealed and secret. Like the crimes committed by respected doctors and trusted ladies, the crimes in Lady Audley’s Secret shock because of their unexpectedness. Crime in the melodrama of the fifties and sixties is chilling, because of the implication that dishonesty and violence surround innocent people. A veneer of virtue coats ambitious conniving at respectability. Lady Audley’s Secret concludes with a triumph of good over evil, but at the same time suggests unsettlingly that this victory occurs so satisfyingly only in melodramas (Kalikoff, 96).
Everything that Lady Audley does seems calculated. Unlike violent stories of the past in which a criminal kills for the sake of killing, Lady Audley is brilliant in her bigamy, her arson, and her “murder';. The nature of her crimes reflect a general fear of intimate and buried violence, suggesting a growing anxiety about being threatened from within. Her moves are calculated and planned. Murders and robberies spring from a specific social context, not from psychosis or vindictive malice (Kalikoff, 81). Murders in Victorian melodramas are often the result of elaborate plans to...

Find Another Essay On Lady Audleys Secret

charant Creon as the Main Character of Antigone

1231 words - 5 pages Creon as the Main Character of Antigone   Throughout the Greek play Antigone by Sophocles, there exists a dispute as to who should receive the designation of main character. Antigone, the daughter of the cursed King Oedipus, as well as Creon, stately king of Thebes, both appear as the key figures in this historic play. I believe that Creon, king of Thebes, should be considered the main character in this work of Greek theater. Three

Free Macbeth Essays: Sleep and Sleeplessness

525 words - 2 pages The Sleep and Sleeplessness Motif in Macbeth We have consciences that function to tell us the difference between right and wrong. If we have clear consciences, we usually possess the ability to sleep. But when our consciences are full of guilt, we experience a state of sleeplessness. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the sleep and sleeplessness motif to represent Macbeth's and Lady Macbeth's consciences and the effect Macbeth's conscience has

Life Outside of Life in Hawthorne’s Wakefield

898 words - 4 pages Life Outside of Life in Hawthorne’s Wakefield   Efficacy lies at the heart of human desires for immortality. Characters throughout literature and art are depicted as wanting to step aside and see what their world would be like without their individual contributions. The literary classic A Christmas Carol and the more recent, but ageless, film It’s Wonderful Life both use outside influences (three ghosts and Clarence the Angel

Essay on Identity in Song of Solomon

2172 words - 9 pages pieces of wisdom that direct him to the treasure. Set deep within the black culture, the story begins in 1931 and moves quickly to the highly volatile sixties. In his quest for gold, Milkman uncovers the true treasure, his past. This knowledge unlocks the secret of his own identity. The ghosts of the past, explain the people of the present. In that instant, the secret of life becomes clear to him.   The circumstances encompassing

The Character of Oedipus in Oedipus and The Infernal Machine

904 words - 4 pages The Character of Oedipus in Oedipus and The Infernal Machine    The stories of Oedipus, as told through Seneca's Oedipus and Cocteau's The Infernal Machine, contain both similarites and differences. Both authors portray the character of Oedipus as being obstinate, ignorant, and inquisitive. Yet Seneca and Cocteau differ on their interpretation of the motives that propelled these characteristics of Oedipus. Seneca portrays Oedipus as a

Okonkwo's Tragic Flaws in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

3121 words - 12 pages        An increasing amount of contemporary literature traces its origins back to the early works of Greece. For ages, humans have fascinated themselves with the impossible notion of perfection. Unrealistic expectations placed on those who were thought to be the noblest or most honorable individuals have repeatedly led to disappointment and frustration, either on the part of those particular individuals or those they influence. Classic

Sophocles' Antigone - Antigone Must Challenge Creon

889 words - 4 pages Antigone Must Challenge Creon in Antigone   In his "Funeral Oration" Pericles, Athens's leader in their war with other city-states, rallies the patriotism of his people by reminding them of the things they value. He encourages a sense of duty to Athens even to the point of self-sacrifice. He glorifies the free and democratic Athenian way of life and extravagantly praises those willing to die for it. In Antigone, Creon, Thebes's leader in

The Role of Women in Homer’s Iliad

796 words - 3 pages The Role of Women in Homer’s Iliad Homer’s Iliad is undoubtedly focused on its male characters: Achilles, primarily, but also Hector and Agamemnon. Nevertheless, it seems that the most crucial characters in the epic are female. Homer uses the characters of Thetis, Andromache, and Helen as a basis for comparison to the male characters. Homer wants his audience to see and understand the folly of his male characters in choosing war over peace

A Comparison of Butler's Life and Kindred

1915 words - 8 pages described as being older than Dana, a man that "was a prematurely gray thirty-four" (Butler 57). It can also be considered that Kevin is a symbol of the white teachers that helped Butler in high school. It is possible that Butler had a secret crush on one of them and it came through in this novel as an interracial marriage with a character that fitted the description of Butler herself. Butler's women characters are described as being "always

Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter

1439 words - 6 pages Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter Among the multiplicity of arcane elements hidden beneath the words in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", none is so apparent, yet strikingly subtle to the reader's perception and consumption of characterization than the allegorical play on words within the names of the characters.  Both the protagonist and her rival within the plot are blessed with conveniently appropriate, fitting

An Analysis of Robert Ji-Song Ku's Leda

2003 words - 8 pages An Analysis of Robert Ji-Song Ku's Leda       In Robert Ji-Song Ku's short story "Leda," the main character, Sorin, leads a life of imitation. He applies himself to his graduate studies in comparative literature a little too readily: he compares not just text to text; he also compares his life to text, to "works of literature" (Wong 281). If his life does not match that of at least one literary character on several levels of interpretation

Similar Essays

Reality And Illusion In Shakespeare's Hamlet Reality, Appearance And Deception

896 words - 4 pages Reality and Illusion in Hamlet   Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, begins with the appearance of a ghost, an apparition, possibly a hallucination. Thus, from the beginning, Shakespeare presents the air of uncertainty, of the unnatural, which drives the action of the play and develops in the protagonist as a struggle to clarify what only seems to be absolute and what is actually reality. Hamlet's mind, therefore, becomes the central force of the

Sub Plots In Hamlet Essay

1118 words - 4 pages Sub-plots in Hamlet   There are many things that critics say make Hamlet a "Great Work," one of which is the way that Shakespeare masterfully incorporates so many sub-plots into the story, and ties them all into the main plot of Hamlet’s revenge of his father’s murder. By the end of Act I, not only is the main plot identified, but many other sub-plots are introduced. Among the sub-plots are trust in the Ghost of King Hamlet, Fortinbras, and

Hamlet As Victim And Hero Essay

1301 words - 5 pages Hamlet as Victim and Hero      Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, a Shakespearean tragedy, tells the story of Prince Hamlet, who gained the knowledge of a terrible incident that his kingdom had suffered. Claudius, the king of Denmark and Hamlet's uncle, had killed his own brother, the king, who was also the father of Hamlet, and married his brother's widow. Hamlet suffered these traumas to a severe degree, and his only relief was to defeat his

Essay On Light And Dark In Antigone

1188 words - 5 pages Use of Light and Dark in Antigone   The "Golden Age" of Greece is noted for its many contributions to the creative world, especially in its development of the play. These performances strived to emphasize Greek morals, and were produced principally for this purpose. Antigone, by Sophocles, is typical. The moral focused on in Antigone is the conflict between physis (nature) and nomos (law), with physis ultimately presiding over nomos