Lady Audleys Secret Essay

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The Style and Genre of Lady Audley’s Secret

     Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, is a novel of many elements. It has been placed in many different style or genre categories since its publication. I feel that it best fits under the melodrama or sensational genre, and under the subgenre of mystery. It contains significant elements of both types of writing, so I feel it is best to recognize both, keeping in mind that melodrama is its main device and mystery is a type of Victorian melodrama. In order to understand how the story fits into these categories, it is necessary to explore the Victorian characteristics of each, and apply them to the text. In addition to establishing the
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The nature of her crimes reflect a general fear of intimate and buried violence, suggesting a growing anxiety about being threatened from within. Her moves are calculated and planned. Murders and robberies spring from a specific social context, not from psychosis or vindictive malice (Kalikoff, 81). Murders in Victorian melodramas are often the result of elaborate plans to conceal identity, right a wrong or improve social status.
A reader of Lady Audley’s Secret might notice upon concluding the novel that he/she knows very little about the characters at hand. Instead of being fully developed into people who are easy to relate to, the characters in this novel are used more as symbols or pawns that are moved in order to bring attention to social or moral problems. This can best be seen in the character of Lady Audley. Lady Audley is not much of a person, rather she is nothing more than a representation of the threatening woman figure trying to make changes in a patriarchal world. Lady Audley evokes a fear of women’s independence and sexuality. As a popular Victorian genre that trades on the power of the secret and frequently sexualized sins of its heroines, sensation fiction provides a resourceful perspective on the contradiction that frame these villainous victims who are simultaneously diseased, depraved, and socially and economically
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