You wont give up will you Lady Audley?

By the end of Lady Audley’s Secret, the power struggle and dynamics played throughout the course of the novel between Robert and Lady Audley has come to a close. I believe that her power and ability to wield her power by being a non-stereotypical woman of action is accentuated by the lack of forethought of Robert in addition to her “never surrender, never give up” mentality. Lady Audley not only has the ambition and power to bend people to her own will, but also has the audacity to inflict harm upon others. As she is calculated in her power and carries out evil actions, Robert has positive motives but is simply “Sir Michael’s handsome, lazy, care-for-nothing nephew” (Act 1). For Robert, unmasking Lady Audley will reinforce his existing idea of how women should act and exposing her past will end her agreeable relationship with Sir Michael. Lady Audley’s power is in the fact that she is unmovable and so determined in her plans and ideas. For example, this is seen at the conclusion when Robert believes he must fulfill the typical Victorian male duty and demands the subordination of Lady Audley by exposing her. But, since Lady Audley does not represent the ideal woman–controlled and passive–Robert’s power is ineffective. He then pursues a variety of circumstantial evidence. Ironically, in Robert’s investigation of fraud against Lady Audley, he ignores his own fraudulent actions, which only make Lady Audley more powerful. He pretends to be a barrister even though everyone, including Lady Audley, knows he is too lazy to work. As her juror and in his own attempt to assert his power, Robert leaves only one option for Lady Audley: she must leave Audley Court forever. Lady Audley’s response reveals the terror attached to any thoughts of returning to her previous life of poverty: “What could I do? I must go back to the old life, the old, hard, cruel wretched life—the life of poverty, and humiliation, and vexation…” (Act 3, pg 328). At this point, Lady Audley’s greatest fear is quickly becoming a reality but just when it seems she has been defeated, she demonstrates her wittiness and resilience. As the claims of madness swirl around her, the narrator intervenes to point out Lady Audley is not insane but she “would be mad if she chose to exit the house by one of the main doors” (Act 3, pg 352). Instead, her final display of power comes in her exit of the house which some would interpret to be her defeat. She stealthily chooses one of the less used doors, suggesting she is indeed not insane; rather her thoughts even in the moment of perceived defeat, are deliberate and calculated once again. She cleverly thwarts Robert’s attempts to destroy her. Ultimately, Lady Audley defies gender roles and lashes out at the males who attempt to dominate and destroy her.

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