Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lady Audley’s Secret

  • 68-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 42 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a literary scholar with a PhD in English and a Master's degree in Philosophy
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Lady Audley’s Secret Volume 1: Chapters 1-5 Summary & Analysis

Volume One 

Chapter 1 Summary: Lucy 

Audley Court is a noble old house owned by Sir Michael Audley. His wife died 17 years ago and he has recently remarried—much to his daughter’s displeasure. Now 18 years old, Alicia had always been the lady of the manor and feels that her father’s wife has usurped her role.

Alicia’s stepmother was formerly known as Lucy Graham. Prior to marrying Sir Michael, she had been a governess working for Mr. and Mrs. Dawson. Little is known of her background, but she charms people with her gentle nature and graceful beauty.

Sir Michael had not loved his first wife but is besottedbyMiss Graham. He regrets that he is 56 years old and hopes to win her affections with kindness and care, rather than with his money and status.

When he proposes to Lucy, Sir Michael insisted that sheshould onlyaccept him if she loves him. Lucy remains quiet before exclaiming that Sir Michael was good and noble but that he should not ask too much of her. She had indeed had a hard life and could not pretend that the advantages of the marriage to Audley were irrelevant to her.

At this moment, “there was an undefined something in her manner which filled the baronet with a vague alarm” (15). Moreover, he noticed “her hands clutching at the black ribbon about her throat, as if it had been strangling her.” When he asked her if she loved anyone else, she replied, “I do not love anyone in the world,” though Sir Michael found her “strange laugh” (16) perturbing. Nevertheless, he agreed not to ask too much of her, and Lucy accepted his proposal

Despite her acceptance, Sir Michael feels disappointed that she is marrying him for his fortune and position. Lucy, meanwhile, isconscious that her past identity was buried—except for a ring wrapped in old paper, attached to a ribbon at her throat.

Chapter 2 Summary: On Board the Argus 

Aboard the Argus, a young man looks at the waves wearily after three months at sea. He is sailing to Liverpool following three-and-a-half years in Australia. Thinking of his return, he mutters, “Poor…

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