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Serialised Victorian novel written by Wilkie Collins.
Walter Hartright, a young drawing master from Victorian London, gets a job teaching art to two young women, half-sisters Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie, at Limmeridge house in Cumberland. He soon is tangled in a web of dastardly deeds involving an Arranged Marriage and a Mysterious Waif in the form of escaped mental patient Anne Catherick.
The book is often considered the first Victorian sensation novel, and has been adapted into a play, several films and an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
The novel provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Count Fosco.
- Arranged Marriage: Percival Glyde to Laura Fairlie.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Author Appeal: Collins found the female form most beautiful when viewed from behind, so we got mention of Marian having a beautiful backside.
- Break the Cutie: Laura. It's also implied that this happened to Anne.
- Butter Face: Marian.
- Contrived Coincidence: Half the novel runs on this. But it was written in Victorian England, so nobody is surprised.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marian
- Dead Person Impersonation: Laura replacing Anne in the Asylum toward the end of the book.
- Evil Uncle: Fosco is married to Laura's aunt.
- Genre Savvy: Walter.
- When he goes to share what he's learned with Fosco, he takes precautions so that, when he's asked "Have You Told Anyone Else??", he can assure Fosco that he has, and killing him would therefore not solve anything.
- He happily makes a deal with Fosco that will get him what he wants but allow the latter to escape from the law scot-free because Walter assumes karma will punish him anyway.
- Girls with Moustaches: Marian Halcombe.
- Identical Stranger: Anne and Laura, apparently ( Walter discovers that Anne was Laura's half-sister.).
- Love Is a Weakness: Fosco confesses that his esteem for Marian proved to be his only weakness in the affair.
- Malaproper: Professor Pesca.
- Male Gaze: Shamelessly done by Walter on Marian.
- The Ophelia: Anne and Laura
- Person with the Clothing
- The Reveal: The truth of Professor Pesca is one of many. This is, after all, a serialized sensation novel.
- Sexless Marriage: Fortunately for Laura, implied for her and her husband; Sir Percival assures Fosco that there's no chance of Laura producing heirs.
- Tenchi Solution: Hinted at with Walter, Laura, and Marian at the end.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Marian and Laura.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Two half-sisters (not Marian and Laura).
- Victorian Britain
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Used by Fanny to smuggle letters for Marian. Fosco's wife gets them anyway.
- Villainous Glutton: Fosco.
- Woman in White: Arguably, the Trope Namer.
- Worthy Opponent: Marian Halcombe to Count Fosco. Cue rambling about how intelligent/courageous/perfect she is and how they could rule together under different circumstances (if he wasn't married, and he wasn't trying to get her sister's fortune, for starters). But one has to wonder what part of this comes from pure, candid, objective esteem, independent of the fact that the old goat is in love with her. At least in two occasions when she could have been owned by him, he just lets her off.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Collins got annoyed by reviewers who nitpicked about mistakes in dating, which he later fixed in a future edition. He consoled himself by thinking that Shakespeare was guilty of the same thing.
- You Got Spunk: Marian, in Fosco's opinion. And he likes spunk.
The musical adaptation provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Marian. Good GOD, Marian. In the book, she's described as being ugly and masculine. In the musical, she's this. The tradeoff, however, is that she's still considered undesirable, except this time it's due to being a Christmas Cake in her late thirties rather than young and ugly.
- Villain Song: "You Can Get Away With Anything"
- Villain Love Song: "The Seduction"