‘The woman in white’ Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 10 May 2016

‘The woman in white’

The theme secrecy is portrayed in both ‘The woman in white’ and ‘The lady in the lake’. The two extracts I have chosen to convey secrecy is the scene from ‘The woman in white’, when Marian climbs on the rooftop on pages 251-253. I also chose the scene from ‘The lady in the lake’, when Miss Fallbrook is first introduced inside Lavery’s house on pages 112-115. Both extracts convey secrecy as both extracts are set around a situation where there is either a secret being covered up or someone is close to uncovering a secret. The setting also sustains the secrecy in both extracts. In ‘The woman in white’, the setting of the extract explores and sustains Marian’s mood and reinforces secrecy. This is because of it being set at the dead of night, this explores the dangers that Marian is taking by being outside on ledge, ‘placed myself sideways’. Secrecy is also portrayed through the suspense in the first section of my extract as there is the risk of Marian being caught, ”I heard Madame Fosco through the open window yawning’. This shows the secrecy and determination of Marian that she is willing to get caught on the window to find out the hidden secret of Sir Percival and Count Fosco. Wilkie Collins emphasises Marian’s characterisation through her willingness for danger, and that she doesn’t conform to the stereotypical woman values of not getting involved in business.

Collins also uses abstract nouns to show Sir Percival’s impatience, ‘take your restlessness! When do you mean to sit down?” growled Sir Percival’s voice’, this is also an imperative sentence as it shows an impatient demand. This also reinforces the tension of Sir Percival and builds suspense towards the revelation of the secret. The use of long complex sentences reinforces the tension and suspense it also pushes the reader into discovering the hidden secret. The idea of Marian listening in also shows that the secret is dangerous and in contrast to where she is as its dark and she is in a threatening situation ‘peril of my situation’. Marian’s situation can also imply and reinforces the idea of the secret being important to sustaining the plot. The use of first person narrative also shows us Marian’s feelings and her anxiety of being in such a dangerous situation. The secrecy surrounding Sir Percival and Fosco is explored further through the use of, ‘speak to each other without fear of accidents’ the use of the exclamatory sentence shows the mood and fear of the secret that it could cause disastrous consequences.

The secret also changes the characteristic mood of Count Fosco as the use of ‘certain troubles and anxieties’, shows that Fosco’s once calm and calculated manner is being broken down by this secret. The repetition of ‘ crisis’ also shows the reader that the secret could cause long term problems for the characters involved, the use of pre-modification of ‘serious’ to describe the crisis reinforces the mood surrounding the secret. The use of exclamatory and declarative sentence ‘if we are to decide on the future at all’, this implies that the secret may affect the future. The use of the imperative sentences to show the importance of the decision surrounding the secret ‘we must decide secretly to-night’ implies that they need to plan what is going to happen in order to keep the secrecy between them. The use of auxiliary verbs reinforces the tension between Count Fosco and Sir Percival, ‘what I DO know’. This implies that the secrecy is taking on the characters mood. The use the declarative sentence ‘I do NOT know’ also shows that Count Fosco is determined to stay in control and not let the secrecy allow him to make mistakes. Count Fosco also puts the idea of a ‘proposal’, to show that his intentions are to only benefit him and Sir Percival and that they are prepared to plan and scheme in secret in order to get what they want.

Follow on

The secrecy is sustained through the wine being on the table, ‘almost empty and another full bottle waited’. This shows that the use of alcohol is involved, this is shown also through the ‘two glasses had been used’, and this sustains the plot and creates ambiguity. This allows the reader to create their own assumption on what could happened inside the house. In conjunction to the house being silent creates mystery and can be seen as the truth being concealed. The repetition of the idea of the stillness of atmosphere with the house being ‘hushed’, ‘silence’ and ‘hearing nothing’, can imply that the house is abnormally quiet and can reinforce the reader’s assumption of foul play.

Free ‘The woman in white’ Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 10 May 2016

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