Montag, 9. April 2012

The Knight/Baronet Dilemma: Woman in White Part I

I know we have already analysed poor Wilkie's giant forehead to death, but obviously we are not the only ones who consider it a fact of utmost importance. I am literally quoting from the introduction to my Dover Giant Thrift Edition copy: Collin's father was deeply religious and seems to have been disappointed by his son -a small, sickly child with a peculiarly bulging forehead. There it is! It is officially written down, so we are no perverts anymore for taking so much notice. Okay, I have finished, nevermore shall I speak of Wilkie's anatomical anomalities. From now on I am only going to talk about his writing.

This is the first Readalong I have ever joined and I am more than a little surprised how easy it is to keep up with the schedule. I had actually completed reading last week's part by Wednesday and have been anxious to go on since. I think I don't have to mention how much I'm enjoying The Woman in White so far. For one thing Wilkie Collins is the first Victorian I have ever read who doesn't devote entire pages to descriptions of almost everything in the novel, his book is pretty fast paced and we learn something new every few pages, which is something I always appreciate.

Walter Hartright is a nice guy and not much else and of course he is not original enough to fall for someone else than the fair, sweet, innocent and absolutely boring Laura. I had hoped he was going to fall in love with the ominous woman in white (who is by far my favourite character), but no, he chooses the most predictable path ever.

Of course I have to join into everyone's praise of Marian Halcombe now because she is simply a badass, but I have to admit that her complete looking down on all women makes me like her a lot less than I could otherwise. I know that I have to expect sexism in a victorian novel, but I didn't expect it to come from a woman. Perhaps the damnation of everything feminine is her survival strategy because she is ugly in contrast to her much-admired halfsister, but her abasing of all women still annoys me.

Something else which upsets me is that my brain is obviously not able to understand the difference between a knight and a baronet, and whether it is important or not. But I guess everyone will agree with me that Baronet Sir Percival Glyde has to hide some devilry behind his shiny name.I just hope Laura is smart enough to follow Anne Catherick's advise because this woman is clearly not insane one little bit. It's a mystery to me how she could have been locked up in an asylum for madwomen when she is obviously only a little eccentric. Nowadays she would get her own talkshow!
The only thing I can think of is that she knows some nasty secret she is not supposed to tell anyone. How about this: Mr Fairlie cheated on Laura and Marian's mother with Ms Catherick and is Anne's father, which would explain why she resembles Laura so much. Mr Fairlie of course doesn't want anyone to discover his secret affair but Anne somehow finds out who her father is, so Mr Fairlie asks his good old friend Sir Percival Glyde to institutionalise her and in return he promises to let him marry his beautiful daughter and heiress.

And? What do you think? It's not very good but the only theory I have at the moment, and I can't keep from making theories. I am anxious to find out if I have come somewhere close to the truth. Oh, and I do hope Professor Pesca appears again! He is hilarious!


  1. DUDE forehead validation. I'm so happy.

    Did you see Laura at Devouring Texts' post? She talks about it. Mainly a baronet is higher than a knight, and it's an inherited title, whereas a knight's title dies with him.

    GASP you have an actual workable theory! Which would explain why Anne doesn't have a father! Goodness gracious.

    "but no, he chooses the most predictable path ever." Accurate. Also, I don't think we should take Marian's imprecations against women totally seriously yet. I wanna see what else she does.

    1. Oh! Oh! That's what I didn't get! So basically you have to do something for becoming a knight whereas you can be an absolute mollycoddle and still a baronet because your great-great-grandfather slayed a dragon. NOW I get it.

      Good, I'm giving Marian one last chance. I'll judge her when we're inside her head. I still like her better than the blonde puppet anyway.

      May the official recognition of Wilkie's forehead be the light of your day.

  2. Well, now I understand why Wilkie is so obsessed with foreheads! Though the Victorians were anyway. So odd.

    1. Hard to imagine, but even the Victorians had their flaws. But I feel a whole new sympathy for Wilkie after discovering that his father hated him because of his forehead!

  3. That theory, it is BRILLIANT. See, I was thinking that maybe Percival was Anne's father...but that would be incredibly awkward and possibly incestuous if, as I suspect, Laura and Anne are closely related. The suspense is killing me.

    1. I like the Percival/father theory too! It would explain why he would be completely ruined if his secret were discovered and I am sure we can all imagine that Percival doesn't have the strength of a saint when it comes to resisting temptation...