Is Clara Robert’s Energizer?

The first time the audience meets Clara Talboys, George’s sister, is when Robert has come to see Hartcourt, George’s father, in order to make him aware of his suspicions concerning George’s disappearance. Although a minor character, Clara plays a key role in driving the plot forward through transforming Robert’s character along with offering a contrast to Lady Audley and Phoebe. Where Phoebe is plain, silent, and reserved, Clara is “handsome”, warm, and, when away from her father’s repressive influence, passionate in her devotion to her missing brother. Her devotion goes to the point of saying to Robert, “I will travel from one end of the world to the other to find the secret of his fate, if you refuse to do it for me (pg 221). She serves the important purpose of bolstering Robert’s flagging determination to follow the evidence to her brother’s killer. She becomes his inspiration, his muse so to speak. And perhaps even more importantly, she makes him feel that he is not alone in his search for the truth.

In addition, Clara is the embodiment of femininity when it comes to appearance as well as her character and behavior. As opposed to Lady Audley, she does not act vehemently or aggressively, but instead, her speech is described as “suppressed passion” and “her resolution was the fruit of no transient womanish enthusiasm…her beautiful features transformed into marble by the rigidity of her expression (pg 222). Although feminine, she rejects the stereotypical passivity of her gender when away from her domineering father. By abandoning feminine passivity, she uses her determination to serve a moral end, rather than to benefit herself like Lady Audley would. Clara is able to motivate Robert again. At this moment, Robert finds his ideal of womanhood: “Her beauty was elevated into sublimity by the intensity of her suppressed passion. She was different to all the other women that he had ever seen. His cousin was pretty, his uncle’s wife was lovely, but Clara Talboys was beautiful” (pg 222). Clara transforms Robert’s previously idle character into one of resolution; she functions to further the plot by being Robert’s stimulation to continuing to seek justice for his beloved friend and her brother, George.


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