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.


In Brandon’s story “Lady Audley’s Secret” Brandon creates a classic detective novel through the presentation of empirical evididence and slow build of tension in the multiple plot lines. Braddon presents her evidence in a very classic but mysterious way. She almost stops the story in its tracks to make sure the reader takes note of the evidence, but does not yet present that evidences significance leaving the reader wanting more. Right from the start we get and empasis on the bow on Lady Audley’s neck. We don’t understand why or the importance of this bow, but since Braddon stops the story and makes such an emphasis, we will surely remember this piece of evidence down the line as the plot begins to unfold.

Braddon does a fantastic job of building the curiosity of the reader, while at the same time making sure they fully understand the plot as it develops. It is lmosst as if we are watching a detective show, and we get a visual of the evidence and we distinctly remember it, but Braddon is doing all of this with her words and writing. I am very interested to see how all of this evidence and all the separate plot lines come together in the end of this novel.

with horrible creation comes great responsibility?

At this point in the story Victor has confronted the monster in attempt to put an end to the damage he created by bringing the Monster to life. It is clear that Victor has a sense of moral obligation because he indirectly caused the deaths of William and Justine. Victor has come to put this madness to an end, but the Monster intends to sway Victor in another direction. The Monster wants Victor to recognize its (his) humanity. He also wants Victor to feel a sense of responsibility for the life he created. The Monster says “Unfeeling, heartless creator! You had endowed me with perceptions and passions, and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind” The Monster does not hold back in making Victor feel more guilt and responsibility for the deaths of Justine and William. (Side note: If the Monster wants to be viewed as human then why is he saying he wasn’t in control of or responsible for his actions…?)

It is clear that this tactic works on Victor as we see him struggle with how he must handle his situation. The monster has created so much destruction, but he is a living being. Victor says “…did I not, as his maker, owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow?” This part of the Monster’s story works excellently as we see Victor begin to realize that he created a living sentient being and he is responsible for it. It is his fault it was cast out and rejected and it is his responsibility to give it a happy life to the extent he can.

I do not believe this part of the story works as well on the reader because we did not create the Monster and do not have a sense of obligation to its actions. We can maybe sympathize with both the Monster and Victor but we cannot connect on the same level. In my opinion I connect with the part of the story when the Monster cites Paradise Lost and his connection to both Adam and Satan. He first relates himself to Adam but sympathizes with the Devil saying, “many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.” It is not the fact that he builds a connection with Adam and Satan that strikes me, it’s the fact that the Monster read Paradise Lost. I can barely even understand Milton and a Monster made out of dead bodies in laboratory nails it.


Dynamic story or complicated mess?

Shelley opens Frankenstein in the form of letters from a separate individual from our main character. Walton is writing to his sister about his journey to the north pole and the things he encounters on the way. Along his journey he encounters a stranger who is ill and emancipated. Obviously, this stranger turns out to be Victor Frankenstein, but why does Shelley bother introducing a character who has nothing to do with the central plot? She does this because she wants the reader to know that Victor has an audience and she wants the reader to know who that audience is. This story is not being told to the reader, it is being told to Walton and then from Walton to his sister. Shelley wanted to add a dynamic to this story that is not found in most novels. Walton adds a perspective and dynamic to an already intense and entertains story. This added dynamic is so smooth it does not complicate the story, but it gives the reader a unique understanding of what they are about to read, rather than a story that cuts right to the chase.
It is important to note the parallel between Walton and Victor. Both of these men are explorers searching for further knowledge and adventure looking for the “country of eternal light.” Light in this quotation is an allegory for knowledge and the endless amounts of it. The search for knowledge plays a large role in this book as each of the main characters (Victor, Adam, and Walton) are facing grave danger to attain it.

50 Shades of crazy?

In Eliza Haywood’s “Fantomina” we see a woman go to extreme lengths to enjoy the company of a man. It is hard to determine exactly her motivation because this relationship begins with a rape as he thinks she is a prostitute, so I do not think this is for love or fun. It think this is purely based on her desire to be in control and her desire for pleasure/fun.

She is certainly a text book example of a New Woman. The language Haywood uses makes it hard to determine her exact intentions. At first it may seem as if she very much desires the company of Beauplasir, but once we learn the result of her actions we understand that this whole plot was a hunt for pleasure and excitement. “She discovered what the consequences of her amorous follies would be, without almost a miracle, impossible to be concealed – she was with child.” The author is showing that she is receiving punishment for pursuing her fleshly desires to such an extent. The “follies” that the girl was after was the company of a man who only wanted her for sexual pleasure. Beauplasir’s name literally means “fair pleasure.” There is no emotional attachment here, it is purely physical and the girl goes to extreme lengths to fulfill those desires through her numerous disguises. She is a woman of class so she could easily find a husband or lover willing to court her. Yet she chooses to disguise herself as prostitutes or widows to seek the company of ill intentioned men. This is a purely sexual pursuit and nothing more.

Her consequence for this pursuit is the consequence of any pursuit in this nature. She becomes pregnant and will not be able to have a stable family or a father around to help raise the child. She was not concerned about this, however, when she was in her unyielding pursuit of pleasure.

Lizzie (Christ) the redeemer?

To better understand Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” we must determine her intentions while writing the poem. It turns out that is impossible as is with most poetry, but it is obvious there are main themes that can be interpreted from her work. The theme I intend to focus on is the Biblical allegory. We see through the first few stanza’s the Goblins tempting the innocent girls with the fruit the girls know they should not eat. ‘’We must not look at Goblin men, we must not buy their fruits.” Obviously this is an allegory for Satan’s tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden. The description of the goblin men describe them as disgusting and fowl creatures as well, yet their call and their fruit seems so enticing.”One had a cats face, one whisked a tail, one tramped at rats pace, one crawled like a snail.” Rossetti later mentions “she heard a voice like the voice of doves they sounded kind and full of loves.” Laura knows that this fruit and these men are not to be messed with, but the temptations and their cooing of her mask their true identities a disgusting creatures. This is similar to how Satan entices Eve in the Garden in an almost seductive way, while she cannot see that he is true evil. Laura soon falls into her earthly desires and gets the fruit, however it costs her everything. Much like being cast out of the Garden, Laura can no longer work and no longer has the desire to live.

This is where the allegory takes another step forward with Lizzie stepping in as the Christ figure. She is described as being as pure as a “lily in a flood” like Christ was when he came to atone for our sins. Lizzie goes to the market with intentions to help and receives a temptation of the fruits much like Christ did when he wandered the desert. Lizzie refuses the temptation and takes a beating from the goblin men. Additionally, the goblin men squeeze the juice all over her body. Laura drinking the juice off if Lizzie’s body and being healed is symbolic of the taking of communion in the Christian religion. Lizzie paid the price for Laura’s selfish sins, so in return Laura can have a second chance. Although we can never know Rossetti’s true mind set while writing this poem, we cannot ignore the blatant Christ allegory portrayed in her poem.

Does hard work-work-work pay off?

In the poem “Song of the Shirt”, Thomas Hood utilizes striking images to convey the dim and miserable life of the seamstress to the reader. His opening lines hit the reader instantly as he paints the picture of a woman sitting in “unwomanly rags” with “eyelids heavy and red.” The immediate setting starts the reader off feeling sorry for this woman. She is already tired at the start of this story, yet it is obvious she will have to continue to work. Hood then moves to the image of the seamstress falling asleep while at work: Seam, and gusset, and band, band, and gusset, and seam; till over the buttons I fall asleep, and sew them on in my sleep.” (lines 13-16) In this image, Hood shows the reader that she has worked so hard and for so long that she has fallen asleep, but the repetition of her work carries over her to her dreams. Even after falling asleep she cannot escape the work she commits herself to during the day.

The imagery continues to grow darker in lines 22-24 as Hood writes “In poverty, hunger, and dirt, sewing at once, with a double thread, a shroud as well as a shirt.” The seamstress is not only sewing a shirt, but that shirt will also be the sheet in which she is buried. Hood then moves on to the image of the wages she receives for her hard work. This is where the case is made most to appeal to the reader’s sympathy. “…And what are its wages? A bed of straw, a crust of bread and rags, that shatter’d roof, and this naked floor a table – a broken chair – a wall so blank…” He compensation for all of her hard work is essentially nothing. She works herself to the brink of exhaustion and she sleeps on a bed of straw, in a house with broken furniture and nothing on the walls.

I think Hood’s technique absolutely distances the reader from the seamstress. This was meant to make the wealthy of London realize how hard the poor work and that they are not all lazy slobs. This poem is not meant to help the reader identify with the seamstress, it is meant to guilt the reader into recognizing the horrid cycle of poverty.

Is Swift a Savage?

In Jonathan Swifts “A Description of a City Shower”, the use of satire emphasizes Swifts opinion on the city life and London itself. It is obvious he uses a mixed tone here, as he mocks the city life while also taking a very negative and gloomy outlook on that way of life. He even starts his poem stating that this “shower” is something to dread. “Careful observers mar foretell the hour (By sure prognostics) when to dread a shower.” (lines1-2) This is not the type of shower that is going to make things clean again, it will bring a flood that will bring all of the horrible things about the city to the surface. “Strike your offended sense with double stink.” (line 6) It is obvious that throughout this poem, Swift is painting a picture of a city that is filthy, smelly, full of drunks.

His Neoclassical outlook draws him more to the countryside rather than the damp and sour alleys of the city. He states that the shower coming down is like that of a woman’s mop as she cleans, however, the mop is not so clean. (line 20) At times it seems as if he is almost amused by the disgusting nature of the city. Swift really lets these people have it and holds nothing back. In line 33-34 he refers shoppers as daggled (mud-spattered) females bargaining for goods they will not even buy.

Swift even goes on to make satire of the Greek heroes that hid inside the Trojan horse. He says “Those bully Greeks, as moderns do, Instead of paying chairmen, run them through.” (lines 49-50) I think the language here is fascinating. Yes, it is obvious he is saying that the Greeks use their swords and “run them through” instead of acting civilized, but he compared those bully Greeks to the moderns in line 49. In my opinion this is Swift comparing the modern civilians of London to the brutes and “heroes” that raided the city of Troy.

Swift closes his poem with a less satirical and more direct negative finish, as he describes the numerous things that float down with the flood. From butcher’s stalls and dung, to dead cats and puppies, the evil of London is brought to the surface as this flood washes it all away. Perhaps this poem is Swift calling for a shower to wash away all the filth of the city he seems to despise so much.

Is there no kindred mind?

Mary Robinson provides a number of strong arguments against slavery in her poem “The Negro Girl.” Much of it has to do with our creation by the Almighty and the fact that regardless of tint and culture, all of our souls are still the same (lines 54-55). Initially, the first argument that really stuck out to me was in lines 24-26 when Robinson writes “Does Heav’n’s high will decree that some should sleep on beds of state, some, in the roaring Sea.” Here it appears that Robinson is using the roaring Sea as a symbol to represent the cruel enslavement of the African race. (This could have been completely obvious from the start, but I did not catch it until these few lines lol.)

Robinson frequently talks about the mind and the soul and how they are created equally even though skin color is not viewed as such. In lines 37-42 she argues that the negroes did not have the soul, or Jewel of the mind stolen, so the only thing separating them from their fellow man is simply skin color. Robinson asks in line 58: “Is there no kindred mind?” Over the course of much of history cultures have been formed and banded together or even enslaved not for their intellectual abilities, but for their race and the pigment of their skin.

“Man was not form’d in Heav’n, to trample on his kind!” (lines 66) Robinsons language is interesting here. She uses the word trampled almost as if she acknowledges that man will be in conflict, but one man should not “trample” over another man. The word trample insinuates putting one beneath your feet and running them into the ground. In simpler terms the white man was not created to step on the backs of other races to advance their own.

Robinson’s argument is clear throughout this poem: white men were not created with a different mind or different soul than black men. All races are creations of God and created in his own image. The problem is humans are visually and aesthetically oriented beings, and the one thing that makes us all equal cannot be seen with the naked eye.

What is more powerful? Manipulating magic or magical manipulation?

In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” we see a number of different forms of power or control. It is central to the development of the plot. The key forms of power we see are manipulation and magic. It becomes evident from the beginning that Prospero is using his magical abilities to enact a revenge plot by wrecking the ship in the first scene of Act 1. As much as magic and Prospero’s unnatural abilities may be fascinating, I think that his main power (and the central power shown in this play) is the power of manipulation.

We often see characters trying to take advantage of another character’s situation. One of these situations include a character’s guilt or feeling of loyalty. We see Prospero manipulate his servants Ariel and Caliban through the debt they owe him for saving them. Ariel mentions in Act 1 Sc. 2 line 295 “I prithee, Remember I have done thee worthy service, Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served Without or grudge or grumblings. Thou didst promise. To bate me a full year.” He is obviously working towards the goal of freedom and is doing these deeds for Prospero to achieve that goal. However, it becomes obvious that Prospero still has the upper hand when he says “Dost thou forget. From what a torment I did free thee?” in line 300. He enforces that Ariel in indebted to him, thus continuing his manipulation and his ability to use Ariel’s powers for his plot. It is with her powers that Prospero continues to manipulate the plot. So in a way, the powers of magic are used as a method of manipulation.

Ariel’s powers/magic are used to manipulate the minds and conversations of those on the island. In Act 2 Scene 1 we see Antonio manipulate Sebastian with the promise of being king. We see that Sebastion almost thinks that Antonio is talking in his sleep when he is suggesting they enact their plan to make Sebastian king. “Thou dost snore distinctly. There’s meaning in thy snores.” (Act 2, Scene 1, line 242) In my opinion this suggests that Ariel is manipulating Sebastian’s words as it is indicated that earlier in the scene he arrived and put most of the group to sleep.

I believe that the art of manipulation is central to this plot. There are countless examples of Prospero and others taking advantage of those in weaker situations or even using the power of magic/spirits to enact a certain outcome. In terms of power I think that the manipulation of others through feelings of guilt or loyalty is the strongest form of power, as this gives Prospero the ability to manipulate Ariel for his spiritual powers.