Luke – Possibly the MOST Pivotal Character

For the majority of Lady Audley’s Secret, Luke Marks was a character I did not think much of. He did not seem to add much to the plot and was kind of just there in a way. That is, until the end. Luke ends up playing one of the biggest roles in the novel when he reveals the wealth of information he possesses that ends up solving the mystery about Lady Audley. “‘…suppose I feel that I can’t die with a secret on my mind (…) I’d have been burnt alive before I’d have told her.’ He spoke these words between set teeth, and scowled savagely as he uttered them” (Braddon 421). I find it so intriguing that Luke knew something about Lady Audley for the entire novel and only decided to disclose it when he was close to death. He obviously has strong negative feelings regarding her, so one would think that he would have wanted to reveal this information sooner. In addition to this, “‘…I’d never have told her – never, never! I had my power over her, and I kept it; I had my secret, and I was paid for it…’” (Braddon 421). It is revealed to the readers that the main reason behind Luke’s decision to withhold the information about George from Lady Audley is because it gave him a sense of power over her. Lady Audley believed she had killed George when she accidentally pushed him into the well. Luke believed that this idea of being responsible for George’s death probably tormented Lady Audley. Luke was the only person who knew George was actually alive for awhile, and he knew that knowing this would bring Lady Audley relief – something he did not think she deserved.

The fact that he withheld this information shows how much power he actually has in this novel. If Luke was not involved in this way, the novel would probably have a completely different outcome. I find this extremely interesting, since Luke is a character I previously thought nothing of. The fact that Braddon uses him in this way makes for a very interesting plot twist that I really enjoyed. As soon as Luke is an important part of the novel, he is gone. “The landlord waited upon him at dinner, and told him that Luke Marks had died at five o’clock that afternoon. ‘He went off rather sudden like,’ the man said, ‘but very quiet’” (Braddon 434). Luke had been struggling to survive ever since he was badly injured in the fire, and it was this pivotal information he possessed about the supposed murder of George that was keeping him alive. The fact that he dies so suddenly after revealing his information to Robert shows what an intense hold it had over him. The thing that intrigues me the most about Braddon’s use of Luke is that he becomes important in one chapter and is then dead by the end of it. This really adds to the suspense and intrigue of the novel in my opinion, and is one of the reasons this novel is known as “sensational.”


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