Identity can be defined as the condition or character a person or thing. Behaviour can be manipulated to mask identity so that people appear to have characteristics and conditions which in reality they do not possess. In this essay, I will present a comparative analysis of two extracts in which the characters have modified their behaviour so that they portray a false identity of themselves. The two characters that I will compare are Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White, and Murial from The Lady in the Lake.
The selected extract from The Woman in White is the scenario in which Sir PercivalGlyde is attempting to convince Marian and Mr Gilmore of his innocence. In this scene, Laura has received Anne Catherick’s letter warning her against marrying Sir Percival. Collins portrays Sir Percival as a well-mannered Baronet who wants to avoid misfortune and embarrassment on others; ‘may I beg that you will write at once… ’. Sir Percival’s use of the auxiliary verb ‘may’ here makes him appear to be considerate and submissive. The verb choice of ‘beg’ makes him seem as though he is at the mercy of Marian. He depicts a gentlemanly manner, which to some extent successfully cloaks his true motives and identity.
In this extract of The Woman In White, Mr Gilmore – the family esquire – is narrating.Thus providing an objective outlook of the events taking place. Mr Gilmore is emotionally and personally involved in the situation as he cares for Miss Fairlie as he has known her from childhood. Even so he the attempts to keep his professional opinion objective and irrelevates his own emotional opinion, observes and deduces a judgement from the facts presented in front of him as he narrates ‘my function was of the purely judicial kind.
I was to weigh the explanation we had just heard…’ to which he comes to a fair and unbiased verdict ‘that his explanation was, to my mind, unquestionably a satisfactory one.’ However we still question the reliability of Sir Percival’s explanation due to the fact that even though Mr Gilmore has told us that objectively he has concluded that Sir Percival’s explanation is ‘unquestionably’ satisfactory he contradicts himself by stating that he could also ‘set up a case against Sir Percival Glyde’. This instantly sparks hesitation in the reader to trust Sir Percival Glyde even though accordingly
we have no reason to. The reader chooses to take in to account Mr Gilmore’s biased view rather than his professional conclusion which in consequence results in suspicion – that Sir Percival’s personality, his perceived identity is, to some degree falsified. However even though we questions Sir Percival’s identity and his involvement with Anne Catherick, we nor Mr Gilmore or Marian question his motives on marrying Laura.
In the second extract The lady in the lake is where we are introduced to Mrs. Fallbrook. In this extract, Marlow visits ChrisLavery’s house to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lavery’s previous encounter with Krystal this is not how you spell her name? Kingsley. Here he meetsMurial for the first time as Mrs Fallbrook, and when her identity is questions she instantly replies ‘Why, certainly. I’m Mrs Fallbrook. Who did you think I was?’.
The declarative statement followed by the interrogative challenges the detective to question her identity. Her use of the word ‘why’ before she has even introduced herself shows unnecessary protestation as though she feels she is being accused of being someone else, which in reality she is. ‘Why’ here also hints at confusion and misunderstanding while the adverb ‘certainly’ shows her certainty and confidence. Chandler confuses the reader at once with the personality of Mrs. Fallbrook. ‘Who do you think I was?’. The interrogative is used in a demanding manner, as though she is leaving Furthermore, the demanding tone of the interrogative leaves the reader leaves the reader questioning why she felt the need to ask it, and whether she is assuming someone else’s identity. leaves no room for doubt or opposition, and this in turn leaves us wondering who she really is. It also implies that she is eager to know who he thought she was and why. A question she would have otherwise not asked if she was not assuming someone else’s identity.
The narrative perspective of the novel aids in masking Muriel’s true identity in this extract. Chandler has opted to use the first person narrative, which limits the point of view to that of the detective Marlow such as when he interrogates Mrs Fallbrook ‘But you didn’t shoot him, did you – on account
of he owed you three months’ rent?’. He is completely oblivious to the fact that Mrs Fallbrook is not whom she claims to be and the persona of Mrs Fallbrook is a disguise to hide behind while concealing her own identity. This adds to the mystery of the novel as the reader is also as naïve tothe true identity of the woman in the apartment as Detective Marlow, leading to usquestioning her identity although we do question her motives for being in Lavery’shome where it should have been in reverse.
The language used in the two texts differ, which reflect the time period that the extracts are written in and whom they were intened for. On one hand you have The Woman In White. In this the language is sophisticated. Many intended statements are enquiries. For example ‘can there be better testimony in his favour… than that of the woman’s mother?’ Implying that such a high ranking man such as Sir Percival was being dishonest was at the time being rude was inconceivable and to avoid this statements are asked as questions to hide that fact that it is exactly what the person is thinking, whereas questioning suggests innocent naivety, as people of such rank were always polite and would not speak out of term. Also it is more descriptive. This is because in the Victorian era, reading was one of the few ways people could spend their leisure time, especially the rich as they did not have the same technologicaladvancments as in The lady In The Lake.
The Woman In White was written in 1859, this was before technology had advanced and apart from playing games such as chess and draughts the older and more sophisticated generation has nothing else to do but read. It also suited the upper class rich to be the ideal audience for The Woman In White as they were amongst the few people in society who were educated and could read. So the language used is tailored around the intended audience and has Collin considered the length and amount of description in the novel.
On the other hand we the lady in the lake where almost none of the characters speak in a well-mannered tone. Marlow for instance is very blunt and to the point majority of the time and shows no interest in showing respect for anyone as it is not relevant to his job, and is sadistically sarcastic. For example when talking to Mrs Fallbrook he does not pretend nor hide the fact that he thinks she’s lying ‘let’s not kid around anymore… not that I don’t
love it… you didn’t shoot him, did you…’ here the interrogative ‘you didn’t shoot him, did you…’ is implied more as a declarative that he is awaiting confirmation for and so is instantly accusing her of murder. Also he seems to be patronising her ‘let’s not kid around anymore… not that I don’t love it…’ which can be considered as rude.
The Lady In The Lake is considerably more fast paced and seems to lack the large quantities of description in comparison to The Woman In White. Where The Woman In White has many paragraphs dedicated to description, where The Lady In The Lake make up for in dialogue, to a point where the ever little e description of the setting is given it is given thought dialogue, for example were Mrs Fallbrook describes the rung and the grey chenille carpeting on the stairs. Because of the lack of description and the much use of dialogue the story is much faster paced. Chandler is very concise and has to be as much as possible as the novel, written in 1943 it has to compete with other means of leisure such a movies which as a much more popular choice amongst the general public to whom the novel is also targeted at.
In conclusion in both extracts perceiving someone is who they claim to be is mistake for which they pay dearly later on in the novels. In the woman in white true identityassumed because of honour and rank and in the lady in the lake it is because of naivety to the full situation not having reasons to suspect otherwise.
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