George is brought up by his mirthless aunt in a gloomy, old house in Chiswick. From the start, George suspects that his origins are tragic: “I must have had in my veins the blood of some wild and reckless being, perhaps some cruel and pitiless criminal.” (Driven Home, Chapter 1) As expected in a sensation novel, these turn out to be not just romantic musings of a lonely child with too much energy and imagination. On her deathbed, George’s aunt makes the revelation: “You are George Wardour, the only child of Geroge Wardour, the poisoner.” (Driven Home, Chapter, 1) The family tragedy is dispensed with in a couple of sentences: “His wretched wife, who stole him from me, deserted him …” (Ibid.) This sounds promising, but nothing comes of it. The whole purpose of George’s sensational parentage is, it would seem, to establish his flawed nature: he is a fundamentally good man with a wild streak and a moral weakness. His failings are explained as hereditary traits. George has an internal demon, like all good tragic heroes. Arkwright is here creating a promising protagonist, even if with great haste and clumsiness.
This early appearance of a vague supernatural force appears to break the logic of the novel. Later in the narrative, we know why George is haunted by an unknown power and it makes sense. There is no logical explanation for it here. This is significant, because for a reader who expects a narrative of sensational events that nevertheless remain within the limits of plausibility, this inexplicable meddling of supernatural forces in the narrative is dissatisfying. For a reader accustomed to premonitions, spiritual guidance and fingerprints of God all over traditional melodramatic narratives, this is perfectly acceptable. At this point, Arkwright's novel shows up a fault-line between the old and the new in Victorian story-telling. What would be completely out of place in a detective story, can just about be tolerated in a sensation novel, and would be considered quite ordinary in a traditional melodrama.
The first time the supernatural agent makes an appearance, it leads to George's benefit (Driven Home, Chapter 5). "But, for the second time, this same strange, inexplicable sensation that I had formerly experienced came upon me," (Driven Home, Chapter 6) it leads to tragedy.
George’s journey to California reaches a horrific climax at Longman’s Drift in Chapter 6. George is a recipient of a dying speech of a mysterious Englishman and a witness to a lynching. While the first scene is a satisfying development in a sensational plot and points to further drama, the latter scene is truly disturbing in its violence and would not be out of place in a penny dreadful. This is a well-placed, high-octane chapter which both propels the narrative forward and gives the reader a thrilling jolt of sensation. No wonder George says: “On the horror of these moments I dare not dwell” (Driven Home, Chapter 6) and develops an amnesia that is critical to the rest of the plot.