George Talboy’s and Lady Audley’s fates at the end of this novel clearly differ but both satisfy the reader who wants to be content in the end.
George’s fate was a reversal of the presentation of his character from the beginning to end of the novel. When we meet George, we like George. Everybody likes George. “This George Talboys was the life and soul of the vessel… but everybody liked him” (Vol. 1, Ch. 2). But as much as we like George, Braddon sets us up to believe that George’s story may not have the happiest ending. We met George on a ship that is London bound and read this conversation that leads the reader to believe George’s fate is the character who is royally let down. “My wish is that we may find no disappointment when we get there” and “the person I go to meet may be changed in his feelings toward me” are two comments the governess makes to George that ultimately define his experience when he returns home (Vol. 1, Ch. 2). George then disappears for the majority of the novel so as the reader we assume he received the destiny we expected. This fate is completely reversed when George shows up alive and ends with a hope for a brighter future.
On the other hand, LA’s fate was a continuation throughout the novel. LA’s character is like a tornado where we are exposed to only the small part that touches the ground at first, but as the novel progresses we get caught up in the chaos of the storm and are thrown out at the top of the mayhem. LA started off similar to George’s character in the sense that “every one loved, admired, and praised her,” but LA quickly and severely had a negative development (Vol. 1, Ch. 1). Through shady acts, and manipulation of other characters the reader quickly begins to doubt and judge LA more and more harshly. And ultimately Braddon lets LA reveal her story, “I must tell you the story of my life in order to tell you why I have become the miserable wretch” at a point in the novel that helps the reader proceed to the next step of anticipated misery for LA (Vol. 3, Ch. 3).
To sum it up, I think George’s fate was initially unexpected for the reader whereas LA’s fate was bound to happen. But I think both of their fates pleased the reader rooting for the happy ending so job well done, Braddon.