What’s the Secret to Lady Audley’s Charm?

Lady Audley’s Secret centers around a woman who takes on many different identities throughout the course of the novel. As readers, we are able to get a more complete picture of who Lady Audley is and how she is able to charm others. Her step-daughter, Alicia Audley, doesn’t hold back on expressing her feelings toward the Lady. Alicia says the Lady Audley and her do not get along together and that she is childish and silly but sees that other people like her because she is very agreeable (86).

Alicia is one of our main sources for understanding the appeal of the Lady to others but more subtle clues can be found in the narration of the story as well. We as readers are told that she takes “sunshine and gladness with her” everywhere she goes, “loved society”, and “had a charm which no one could resist” (90). She plays to her strengths and charms people into liking her. She finds peoples’ weaknesses and strengths and uses those to get them to admire her and believe that she is a kind and genuine person who could do no wrong. This become very apparent when she gets out of having to have dinner with Robert and George. Lady Audley knows that very seldom were her husband’s eyes not looking at her face. All she had to do was raise her eyebrow to signal to him that she wanted to leave and they did just that (93).

Simply put, Lady Audley is a charmer and a manipulator. She figures out who she is interacting with and finds ways to make them like her and do what she wants. Even as a reader, you sometimes forget about the things she’s done and fall into her charm. Sometimes you go chapters without reading anything about her and when you do again she seems so pleasant and concerned with the well-being of others. It is not until you stop to think about some of her shadier moments (leaving her first husband and child or using her maid to help with her dirty work) do you remember that it’s all just an act so people will like her.

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