Lady Audley’s Secret begins without a clear-cut hero that is identified. The reader is introduced to a multitude of seemingly flawed characters such as George Talboys, Robert Audley, and Luke Marks. On the surface it seems that Robert Audley is a lazy, carefree, and self-indulgent individual who doesn’t exhibit any motivation. However, once he learns of his friend George Talboy’s disappearance,Robert’s heroic qualities begin to come to fruition. I believe that Robert is a major character in the story as it seems that he is the only one who illustrates any worry or doubt to the disappearance of George Talboys. For example, he says “It is so great a mystery to me…that I scarcely dare to
draw any conclusion whatever; but in the obscurity I think I can grope
my way to two suppositions, which to me seem almost certainties,” basically implying that he George’s vanishing is setting off some of the moral alarms in his mind. At the end of the chapter, he comes to the realization that this disappearance was not a mistake and exclaims “George Talboys never reached Southampton.” This central theme of curiosity and doubt can also be classified as that of madness by the other characters in the novel. Robert is repeatedly told that his inquires into the disappearance of George is described as madness, and this is an overall theme that is prevalent throughout the story. Lady Audley accuses Robert of being “mad” as he digs deeper into the strange occurrences surrounding George, and at the time in England, this was not a term that was thrown around lightly. However, this madness drives Robert to stray away from his lazy and non-motivational tendencies; becoming a hero in the process. Ironically, as Robert is coming closer to being “mad” he also becomes a character in which the reader becomes more infatuated with the relatable Robert and thus evolves into a main protagonist in the story.