Discussion Questions: Woman in White

February 9, 2010 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

You all should know what this is by now! If not, click here for background on the LT Classics Challenge. This week, we’re reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, a novel Sarah Waters said has the best plot in all of English literature. Here are the questions for the discussion post on Thursday:

This is a book of so many doppelgangers and foils! Pesca and Hartwright, Laura and Anne, Laura and Marian…how are these relationships important? What is Collins trying to tell his reader? (Forgive me if this is an obvious question — I haven’t finished the novel yet, but there are too many doubles and foils for this to be a coincidence.)

Mr. Hartwright says early in the book that there is a “want of inborn sympathy between the creature and the creation around it,” and argues that Nature rarely reflects or comforts the human soul. Is that Mr. Hartwright’s opinion, or the author’s? What evidence can you provide for your opinion?

Lastly, this novel is notable in many ways. The Woman in White has been called the best example of the sensationalist novel, one of the first mystery stories, and certainly one of the most popular novels of the Victorian era. Do you think it deserves this sterling reputation? Why do you think Collins is less popular today than Dickens is?

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