Wilkie Collins, the intricate plot genius

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“The Woman in White” is divided into three epochs. Several narrators tell the thick fiction as you can find in “The Moonstone”. This method encourages readers, at least I, to switch my perspective each time the narration is told by different character. Failing to do this may have put me in unfair stance.

I almost failed to differentiate when Count Fosco took the pen from Marian Halcombe when she was falling ill. After many pages she was controlling my thought, it was shocking that Mr. Collins instead to have chosen the Count who was in charge of the story. Here, my job as an objective reader was best tested. As much as I sympathized with Marian Halcombe’s courage and good deeds for her half-sister, Laura Fairlie, I needed to have understood on my roles as good reader. This means I needed to absorb each and every character here so that I would get overall messages and felt all atmospheres. In this regard, I needed to read the minds of the protagonists, the Count was one of them.

The second aspect that require high focus in reading the book is that Mr. Collins chooses back-and-forth pattern. If readers don’t get themselves engaged in the fiction, they will get lost on plentiful detailed clues Mr. Collins offers about the woman in white or following mysteries after her appearance. Failing to do all of that will make readers won’t feel stingy sensation the novel has that earns it the first sensation novel.

Mr. Collins really fascinates me with his way of foreshadowing. He puts small things that don’t only invite readers hard to put it down but also key to grand secret in the book. Who would have thought that the blank page of the marriage registry at Old Welmingham’s vestry was the disclosed point of Sir Percival Glyde’s forgery? Who would have guessed that the date of Laura Fairlie’s leaving the Blackwater Park would disclose her status as a living human being, not Anne Catherick?

To add the already complicated plot, Mr. Collins places spies here and there. Since the coming of Anne Catherick in the Limmeredge House and the surrounding, I felt like the lives of each of the character were being watched. Anne Catherick was watching over the life of Laura Fairlie for good reasons, fortunately. Walter Hartright was being watched by people from Sir Percival Glyde and the Count. Mariam Halcombe was under radar of the Count and Madame Fosco in the Blackwater Park. Almost each character was playing as a spy for another character. Suspicious gestures, unusual habits were enough clues to have stirred for spying.

With those methods in his mind, Mr. Collins utilizes them all to have weaved his messages in such smooth, wonderful and unexpected ways I could have never imagined. Moral decay, scandal, wounds from the past, feminism, inter-class romance are some that he conveys in the fiction. You won’t find them new, of course. But the way Mr. Collins presenting them all will make you viewing the themes in refreshed, unique lights.

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