Wilkie Collins’ Challenge to Traditional Female Roles in The Woman in White
This essay is based on the argument that Wilkie Collins, in his novel The Woman in White (1859), the first sensational novel and prequel to the detective genre, challenges stereotypical female roles in his presentation of the two sisters Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe. Through a comparative analysis of the two sisters, it is shown that Laura represents the traditional Victorian woman, while Marian challenges these ideals, and, through her, Collins creates a new type of literary heroine. The relationship between the sisters is also examined in more detail than has been done before. In addition to this analysis, the essay also contains a didactic chapter which demonstrates how a teacher can use The Woman in White in the language classroom as well as showing how this will benefit the development of students’ language, critical thinking and knowledge of literature.
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