Wilkie Collins executes heap of secrets very well to deliver his messages on gender equality, marital issue and moral decay in “The Woman in White”. With the secrets, he successfully drove me to complete the 619 pages long within eight days despite fairly difficult language, political background in Italy and legal affairs at the Victorian Era in the 19th century.
Mind you, I didn’t Google what was happening in the Pizza Country back then. I also didn’t stop reading “The Woman in White” for further seeking information on inheritance division amongst heirs in elite class in the UK in the century. Doing so would probably cast me away from thoroughly enjoying the book. What a justification to say that I was too lazy for doing those things, LOL!
Anne Catherick alias the woman in white triggered the whole grand secret in the book which was Sir Percival Glyde as an illegal son of his parents, Sir Felix Glyde and Cecilia Jane Ester because the two had never been married. All the wealth that Sir Percival Glyde possessed was taken out from one of his distant relatives who never returned to the UK. He took over his relative’s resources by issuing his birth certificate (which was an easy task) and forging the marriage date of his parents. The second method required him to approach and shower Anne Catherick’s mother with gold and jewelries.
Sir Percival Glyde was secretly contacting Mrs. Catherick for his interest because her husband was a clergyman. Lured by the gifts, Mrs. Catherick took a key to a vestry where which her husband worked, at Old Welmingham. There, he did the crime then put Mrs. Catherick to blame by the locals because they believed she was unfaithful wife for having an affair with Sir Percival Glyde.
To this consequence, Sir Percival Glyde ordered Mrs. Catherick to keep the secret. In exchange, he was giving her money, putting her under observation so that she wouldn’t tell the secret. Old Welmingham was chosen to “imprison her” because as Walter Hartright later said, the district was showing what moral decay of human beings looked like. The residents didn’t care with what wrong deeds Mrs. Catherick did in the past as long as she donated her money. So, it wasn’t without any reasons that she was staying in the district because she believed her neighbors would only care on her money.
All through years, the secret was safe until Anne Catherick heard one of their conversations. Anne, who was born with mental illness, threatened that she would tell the truth. This later caused Sir Percival Glyde to have placed her in a private asylum.
One midnight, she managed to have escaped from the asylum then met with Walter Hartright on his way back to his rented room in London. Coincidentally, Walter Hartright would teach Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie the day after that hence the weird meeting was driving his curiosity by the time he encountered with Marian Halcombe.
His questions about this woman in white got bigger when Marian told him one of his mother’s letter mentioning Anne. The late Mrs. Fairlie said she was fond of Anne despite her mental illness. Then, she gave her white cloths that Anne was wearing throughout her life, gaining her as “the woman in white”. Reading Mrs. Fairlie’s statements that Anne was resembling Laura Fairlie got me suspicious on her true identity. Later, it was true that Anne was actually Laura Fairlie’s half-sister! She was the illegal daughter of Mr. Phillips Fairlie and Mrs. Catherick back then. Another issue on illegitimate children!
Walter Hartright and Marian Halcombe are two “scissors” to peel the layers out. While Marian Halcombe was sacrificing her life for Laure Fairlie, Walter Hartright was risking his life for truth. I am personally captivated by the two thanks to the author’s ideas of making them super brave, resourceful and patient.
I myself salute Marian’s love for Laura that although they were not connected by blood, Marian was doing her utmost to have saved Laura’s life from her wicked husband, Sir Percival Glyde. Some memorable scenes were when she banged the door of Mr. Frederick Fairlie’s room after she told him that Laura agreed to marry Sir Percival Glyde because she was afraid of tainting her family’s good image. Mr. Frederick Fairlie was Laura’s uncle who was insensitive, arrogant and annoying. He was underestimating women’ rights when he didn’t wish to deliberate Laura’s inheritance division with the family lawyer, Mr. Gilmore. This issue later created future problem between Laura or Lady Glyde with her husband. Of course, the most notable scene I would always remember was when heavy rainfall was pouring down her body as she was listening to all secrets between Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco. She was carefully placing herself in the spot where which she was able to find out what motivated them torturing her half-sister. As a result, she was sick so bad.
Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco was badly needing money, one of the reasons was because Sir Percival Glyde was in huge debt. He then required Lady Glyde’s signature to get access to 21,000 pounds she was possessing then divide it with his best friend. But Lady Glyde didn’t wish to do this unless her husband tells him the purpose of the request. This stirred his anger, opened his real motive of marrying her that was because of her wealth.
The two arranged strategies to obtain the money, which they did eventually. They lied to Anne Catherick, to Lady Glyde while Marian was in her sickness. Anne’s heart disease cost her death, which was falsified into Laura Fairlie’s given their physical resemblance. As Anne was buried, Laura was instead put in the asylum. When things looking bright, their unanticipated enemy returned from Honduras, Walter Hartright.
Walter Hartright was coming back to the UK braver than ever. It was his courage that brought him to have chased after the woman in white. It was also his bravery that led him to unravel cruelties did by Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco. I really admire Wilkie Collins’s showing readers, well me at least, how sincere motive and bravery can encourage us to do so many good deeds later on. Add to that is intelligence. Then our contribution can go wildly.
Walter Hartright utilized his sincerity, intelligence and politeness to meet, inquire and even ask for helps from people whom he only knew by hearsay. It wasn’t an easy thing to do when he needed to meet Mrs. Clements for knowing who was Mrs. Catherick. It was even more difficult when he must speak to Mrs. Catherick herself. With spies hired by Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco following him, Walter Hartright was a heroic character I will never forget.
I almost sunk into disappointment when Wilkie Collins opted to end the life of Sir Percival Glyde through fire. I wished Walter Hartright would kill him or drag him into a prison. I also expected the same thing for Count Fosco. But then I told to myself the expectations would create another problem. Walter Hartright might be put into a prison if he killed one of them or both of all. In addition, Walter Hartright didn’t have sufficient to bring him before a court. What he sufficiently had was evidence to clear up Laura’s reputation as a living human being.
It was later understandable that Wilkie Collins instead selected the two villains were dead because of their own deeds. A fire burned the vestry where which Sir Percival Glyde was trying to destroy the falsified marriage certificate and Count Fosco was killed by unknown party from his past. The ending reveals the same message: cruel people will get their deeds repaid in much more improper ways.