Can Lady Audley Plead Insanity?

“She was no longer innocent, and the pleasure we take in art and loveliness being an innocent pleasure had passed out of her reach…she had strayed too far away into a desolate labyrinth of guilt and treachery, terror and crime, and all the treasures that had been collected for her could have given her no pleasure.” At this point in the story we begin t develop sympathy for Lady Audley as her “intentions” aka her “craziness” become more clear. The pleasures of the world were no longer giving her pleasure and she had fallen into the pit of guilt and treachery. Is she a victim of her own madness or is she truly a victim? I believe the story is setting up both, because it is clear she is an agent of chaos, but she is also a victim of that chaos.

Further on in the sotory we see further reason to sympathize with Lady Audley as she explains her madness. ”I killed him because I AM MAD! because my intellect is a little way upon the wrong side of that narrow boundary line between sanity and insanity.” Lady Audley’s “inherited insanity” gives the reader more pause for sympathy when bringing judgment against her. She is the main culprit of the sensation novel and most everything that goes wrong in the story is her fault. However, once the reader realizes her circumstances they can (somewhat) understand her actions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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