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The Woman In White, By Wilkie Collins

1520 words - 6 pages

The Woman In White, by Wilkie Collins, is a successful gothic novel
of the 19th century. It is a 3-volume novel; each volume (epoch)
finishing with the reader eagerly waiting to read the next one, therefore
there are many unanswered questions, in or...

The Woman In White, by Wilkie Collins, is a successful gothic novel of
the 19th century. It is a 3-volume novel; each ‘volume’ (epoch)
finishing with the reader eagerly waiting to read the next one,
therefore there are many unanswered questions, in order for the reader
to continue reading. There is a lot of mystery involved up until the
very end of the whole story, where everything is then revealed; ‘The
Woman In White’ is a good example of how mystery and suspense are used
by the cliff-hangers that are present.

The contents for a gothic novel conventionally contain an innocent
heroine (Laura Fairlie/Anne Catherick), villain (Sir Percival Glyde)
and a hero (Walter Hartwright/Marian Holocomb). Generally gothic
novels had a transgression where everything went against god and all
that was good. It had excessive reactions and ideas, for example the
villain was truly evil, and the heroine was weak and feeble and needed
rescuing, they were incapable of independent action. They were
sublime, awe-inspiring and beyond life, they were fantasy ideas.
However ‘The Woman In White’ fits into the Excess category, where the
characters are exaggerated into their roles, and a lot of mystery and
suspense is created.

Typically gothic novels are set in large and intimidating buildings
like a castle, like in this case, Blackwater Park, or they are very
isolated, like Limmeridge. Supernatural or inexplicable events may
take place, which create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The
women in the novel are in distress and are normally threatened by a
powerful, impulsive and tyrannical male villain. In ‘The Woman In
White’, Laura is a prime example of this stereotypical role, as she
needs to be saved by Walter, the hero, from Sir Percival, the
villain. There is a sense of gloom and horror in gothic novels and
‘The Woman In White’ conveys this through the very dark and depressing
section towards the end of the 2nd epoch, where Lady Glyde dies, and
the many talks of death by Percival and Fosco.

At Blackwater Park, some blood is witnessed; this can be seen as a
foreshadowing of events to come later on in the story. Their
conversation is of criminals and murderers, another foreshadowing, pg
205:

“It looks just the place for murder, doesn’t it?”

The setting is greatly influential in Gothic novels; it not only
invokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also the deterioration
of the world. The environment of Blackwater Park is very gloomy, dark
and sinister and so this fits perfectly, not only with the Gothic
style, but also with the conversation of murder. They talk of a
perfect place for where a murder could take occur, Percival saying
that the lake is a...

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