I will repeat a couple of fragments of Lady Audley’s Secret:
“My lady's portrait stood on an easel, covered with a green baize in the center of the octagonal chamber.” (I.VIII)
“The green-baize covered card-table was adorned with…” (II.VIII, 130 pages later)
The “green baize” is mentioned several times in the novel, mostly as an accessory of the portrait. The reader of the novel knows that the portrait plays an important part in the uncovering of Lady Audley’s secret. In the second passage, an amateur detective is also searching for clues to the secret, and is about to find an important one. But the presence of a common color and type of cloth is just a coincidence for the detective. Even if he unconsciously associates that cloth with Lady Audley, its presence in someone else’s house can hardly be meaningful.
It is only the attentive reader who can perceive the association, who sees the trace of Lady Audley. What is meaningless in crowded reality is meaningful in spartan fiction. It is not a coincidence for me, or for the author, who picked these particular descriptive details out of many possibilities.
Or perhaps Braddon did not create this connection purposefully, but only by chance, without thinking about it. But she might, then, have picked the green baize unconsciously. After all, she is the one who has been repeatedly associating Lady Audley with the green baize, going so far as to write out the words several times. So it is no surprise when, casting about for furnishings for this room where Lady Audley had once been, the phrase “green baize” pops into her head.
In Sigmund Freud’s 1901 essay “On Dreams” (a summation of the 1900 The Interpretation of Dreams written for slackers like me), a dream is described as
a psychical complex of the most intricate possible structure. Its portions stand in the most manifold logical relations to one another: they represent foreground and background, conditions, digressions and illustrations, chains of evidence and counter-arguments. Each train of thought is almost invariably accompanied by its contradictory counterpart. (60)
“He is describing fiction,” I thought to myself, not just dream-fiction but all of it. We use some different vocabulary – replace “contradictory counterpart,” for example, with “ambiguity and irony.” I want to doctor this one, too:
The restoration of the connections which the dream-work [fiction] has destroyed [concealed] is a task which has to be performed by the work of analysis [reading]. (60)
But this is almost perfect as is:
An immediate transformation of one thing into another in a dream seems to represent the relation of cause and effect. (61)
Lady Audley is transformed into green felt, just for a moment. How strange that I, that a good reader of fiction, can follow Braddon’s nonsensical dream-logic.
The Freud quotations are all from the Standard Edition, Volume V, tr. James Strachey.