The Battle of the Sexes: Who has more of it?

As we approach the climax of the novel, a power struggle between Lady Audley and Robert Audley occurs as each attempts to undermine the other.   Each person has several characteristics that give them power, but both are almost equal in their ability to destroy the other.  Robert Audley has the most power in this fight, because of his empirical data, and his gender, which allows him free access to obtain that data.  Meanwhile, Lady Audley is not able to simply act on her own accord freely without her husband. However, she has the money and charisma to convince other people to act on her behalf.

Robert’s collection of history on Lady Audley leads him to learn of her secret: that she was formerly the wife of his best friend.  The power he wields against Lady Audley is his ability to go out of research her background, as he goes from place to place.  Lady Audley tries to keep track of Robert through letters and questioning him (pg 269), but ultimately she is unable to control his ability to learn more about her. The evidence he has complied has the ability to convince anyone of the truth of Lady Audley, despite their relationship with her.  If Robert decides to tell the baronet of his findings, he can remove all of Lady Audley’s influence on others.  Finally, his motivation to take down Lady Audley stems from his wish to honor his best friend, and his promise to his friend’s sister.  This motivation allows him to continue to fight, despite the danger when Lady Audley chooses to not back down during these accusations.

Lady Audley also has many powers that she uses against Robert Audley.  While she cannot leave the house for long, she can convince others to do something for her, with either money or charm.  This is blatant in Chapter 19 of Volume I, when she convinces a blacksmith to break into Robert’s luggage.  In addition, she has control over her husband, which is her source of her power.  In Chapter 12 of Volume II, Lady Audley convinces the baronet that Robert is consumed with madness over his friend, and that he should be taken to a mad house.  Finally, her motivation to not lose her position of wealth and comfort means she’s willing to do anything to retain it.  This power of motivation is seen when she attempts to murder Robert by burning down the inn he’s staying at in Chapter 1 of Volume III.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *