Sir Michael’s Fate

One of the prominent male characters in “Lady Audley’s Secret” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon is Sir Michael, the second husband of Lady Audley.  Toward the end of the novel, Sir Michael “has no fancy to return to the familiar dwelling-place” that he and Lady Audley had shared before her secret of her past was revealed (Ch. XLI).  He has no desire to revisit the home that he was supposed to live in with his wife because it would only remind him of the happiness that building a larger family would bring him.  He decides to stay with his daughter in Europe until her marriage, and will eventually move into another estate that Sir Michael had bought.  This ending, or fate, of Sir Michael simply shows him as a disappointed man who is ready to move on from the wrongdoings of someone he loved.

Sir Michael is possibly one of the least problematic characters in the novel, always going on “his morning walk around his farm” and always having “presents spread out” for Lady Audley (Ch. IX, Ch. VII).  His peaceful nature and generous heart allows the reader to judge Sir Michael as one of the “good guys” in the novel, as he seems to not have any deceit or malicious motives, much like Lady Audley.  His character is consistent throughout the novel as one of the bystanders who got hurt by the lies and secrets of Lady Audley, his wife.  The reader may tend to be on his side toward the end of the novel simply because he is so hurt by the secrets that he does not have the heart to return to his home that he had shared with Lady Audley.

A significant scene in the novel that cements the idea that Sir Michael is innocent and was unsuspecting of his wife’s murderous past was when Lady Audley confesses to him that she has been lying and deceiving him about Robert being mad and her past.  He begins to remember a “crowd of unheeded words and forgotten circumstances” that had not held much importance individually (Ch. XXXIV).  This shows that Sir Michael had been lied to by her, and that he did not make the connections until he heard the full story from Lady Audley.  He honestly had been living in the dream world that Lady Audley had created for them, and the reader can observe the raw emotions that Sir Michael experiences after he is told that that world is based on lies and possibly murder.  He is so distraught that he flees with his daughter Lucy, who is conveniently headed to London, indicating that he truly had no idea about his wife’s past throughout the entire novel.  Even though Sir Michael did not reveal any of his personal secrets, the secrets that were revealed by Lady Audley affected his life to the point that he had to eventually leave his home permanently because the memories caused too much pain.

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