Wilkie Collins’s Count Fosco and Vyasa’s Sengkuni or Sangkuni have many hateful yet agile traits one can relate and learn. Written in centuries apart, “Mahābhārata” and “The Woman in White” captivate me with the inserting of Sengkuni and Count Fosco. I detest each of them but I can’t deny I learn so much from their cunning.
I haven’t read “Mahābhārata” honestly. I only watched the Indian epic masterpiece when was I a little kid. Regularly watching the show was more than sufficient to have put Sengkuni as an unforgettable antagonist in my whole life. I heard him as reference when my father and his brother were referring to national prominent politician from New Order (I didn’t mention his name here, by the way). After I watched the series, I couldn’t agree more.
Sengkuni was best remembered because of his sly tactics for making his 100 nephews known as Korawa defeating their five cousins called Pandawa. Sengkuni was manipulative, provocative person who ignited hatred in the hearts of the Korawa people, especially Duryodana. His resentment toward Pandawa stemmed from his objection when his father accepted a marriage proposal for his sister, Gandari, from Dretarastra, a blind, kind-hearted prince from Hastinapura kingdom. Sengkuni, who was actually a prince from Gandhara empire, wished his sister would have married with Dretarastra’s brother, Pandu. Pandu was the father of Pandawa whereas Dretarastra was the father of Korawa. Despite the two’s good relationship, their sons were fighting for possessing Kuru empire with Sengkuni as the mastermind. Their story is known as Mahabharata.
Count Fosco or Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco was not a layman. Count (male)/ Countess (female) or Conte in Italian language refers to a title in European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey an approximate rank intermediate between the highest and lowest titles of nobility, according to Pine, L.G. Titles: How the King Became His Majesty. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992. P. 73. OCLC 27827106.
Personally, Count Fosco is like some types of people that I know in my life. They have certain attitudes that make them looking like noble people on the surface. The way they talk, how they treat others are different from common people. They know how to keep their tongues in check even when they are in debts or other huge problems. I call them as those who are enslaved to creating good images.
Such is what I learn from Count Fosco. He was in dire need of money but he was not looking as desperate person. He maintained his good humor sense, greeted strangers, and treated people nicely. He didn’t let others know what trouble he was in because that would taint his noble status. This what made Marian Halcombe firstly liked him. After she knew him a little bit longer, she found out who this man truly was. Her realization that Count Fosco was reading her mind and studying her behavior frightened her. This what made the protagonist was very careful in dealing with him. Unlike Laura Fairlie who was frontally disliking him, Mariam was more patient because she knew she must be resourceful and intelligent to get over him.
In addition to his observing nature, Count Fosco was good-tempered person, especially for those who were against his wishes, such as Mariam Halcombe and Laura Fairlie. He knew how to differently handle the two given their traits. Count Fosco was also persistent when it came to reaching his goals. Here, he carefully executed his plans of taking over 21,000 pounds belonging to Laura Fairlie through very well-planned timeline. He knew very well that good strategy wasn’t enough. There required patience to let things rolling on as he planned them, the trait that wasn’t possessed by Sir Percival Glyde.
Count Fosco and Sengkuni were top “brain washers”. While Count Sengkuni consistently whispered devilish words to the Korawa people, Count Fosco did the same thing for his wife, Madame Fosco, who was actually Laura’s aunt. She was so obedient to her husband that she worshipped him like a god. Count Fosco “guided” Sir Percival Glyde, his close friend, in their goals of getting the money.
Walter Hartright could have toppled him with just one strong blow. And I wished he did that because I really, completely detested Count Fosco. Of course, Wilkie Collins didn’t opt for that. Further legal consequence might emerge for Walter Hartright. Marian Halcombe’s descriptions became Walter Hartright’s weapons when confronting him in his rented room before he went away to Paris.
Much like Marian Halcombe, Walter Hartright was patient and clever. On top of that, his sincerity guided this man to smoothly deal with Count Fosco. Walter Hartright fully understood he had to be very well-spoken to confront a manipulative person like Count Fosco.
As Walter Hartright didn’t have legal supports for proving Count Fosco’s wrongdoings, Wilkie Collins remarkably ended the life of Count Fosco. He was killed by unknown people from his past, politically related, in a strange land (Paris) then surrounded by Parisians in a public place. Count Fosco’s life was eventually very much disgraced.