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In his masterpiece, The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins manages to bridges the gap between personal artistic desire and satisfying the thirst of his readers. Crime is a creation specialty of Wilkie, but in this book, he succeeds to write about an actual historical case he came through while in Maurice Mejan in 1808. The book is an artistic creation which features an eventful combination of deceit and fraud and shows the limits greed can push people to do unimaginable things. The book depicts a Mid-19th century setting in England specifically in the city of London and feature scenes from the countryside. The theme of contrast between the two sides is seen throughout the book.
Part 3, Chapter 3: The Third Epoch
The chapter revolves around the confession of Count Fosco after the command by Hartright. Fosco elaborates on their relationship and love for money with Sir Percival. He ascertains that money is a universal want and that they both felt the need to have it. This love for money is painted through the chapters as they plotted to fraud miss Laura of her inheritance. Fasco also confesses his love and attraction to Marian Halcombe who is Laura's sister. He elaborately compares the love he has for Halcombe to a familiar intoxication whenever her name is called out. The subsequent regard Fosco had for Laura would later become subject to most of his actions in the book. Despite being close to Sir Percival, the concern Fosco had for Halcombe influenced most of his decisions which he terms as an error (Collins, 469). One of the mistakes he committed was not acting after discovering that Halcombe had freed Laura from the Asylum. He blames all this on the affection he had for Miss Halcombe. Fosco boasts of the plot they had with Sir Percival to defraud Laura of the 30 thousand pounds she inherited which would later come to light as being the primary reason why Sir Percival had interest in marrying Laura (Collins, 385). The theme of identity which is explored throughout the book comes to light in this chapter. Fosco who is painted as a villain also emerges as a mildly affectionate person.
Another of Foscos errors is allowing Hartright to escape after the demise of Percival. According to this chapter, Fosco is determined that his actions were justified and had he no regard for Halcombe, he would have acted otherwise compromising the entire situation (Collins, 521). Fosco in his confession strives to congratulate himself and outrightly cleanses himself of any serious crime. He engages the reader by asking if his
For the first time in the book, Fosco reveals his real name during the confession as Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco. Only one of the organizations is real which is the Rosicrucian Mason an international society dealing with ancient mysteries. Identity is again a major theme which is displayed when Fosco's real identity revealed. It also pans out that Fosco is a spy (Collins, 468). Mesopotamia is a long way from Italy, and it is not possible for Fosco to have lived there during either of the time.
The letter by Fosco confirms what Halcombe and Hartright had found out in the previous chapter. The letter also proves that Fosco as an international spy mandated to pursue a delicate political mission (Collins, 500). New information about Fosco is brought to light were we learn that he had knowledge of chemistry and could manufacture drugs. It is however not clear what Fosco's political mission was about and how it was connected to him befriending Sir Percival (Collins, 312). The connection to the rest of the book emerges as more about the count is disclosed. The tone variation in the narration of Fosco's self-glorifying nature depicts Fosco's character in the book. More so, the true nature of Fosco is visible to the reader. Hartright sees through Fosco's waft.
The settings that covered in the narrative with each carrying its characteristics and influence on the reader's perception of facts as brought forth by Collins. The Gothic house that was Sir Percival's house in Blackwater Park reflects the character of the two main villains in the novel, Sir Percival and Fosco (Collins, 298). The house is the craft space for the villains as they plot on their move on Laura and her family. Halcombe had a hunch of the dangers the mansion which is seen through the violence and her illness which nearly claimed her life. But Blackwater is also welcoming with it cool ambiance which makes it scary at the same time. This reflects on the characters of Sir Percival and his counterpart Fosco who are charming but at the same time dangerous. The Limmeridge house is depicted as a paradise full unimaginable beauty that is set apart by the romantic imagery (Collins, 502). The characters are in a vibrant mood when they appear at the house as they interact with nature, art, and culture. The writer brings out the constant learning, painting or playing the piano at Limmeridge house which reflects on the talents of the author to adopt the London culture into the script. Even though the Farlie who is seen as crazy lives in the house, he cannot bring down the house with him. It is an accurate reflection of Laura's and Halcomb true nature of magnificence beauty and elegance.
Foscos and Sir Percival character as a villain is widely developed in this chapter with the main focus being on Fosco (Collins, 345). Fosco is seen an irrational, self-glorifying and arrogant person. He has no remorse whatsoever and would go to an extreme extent for money. He is also painted as evil degenerate as he confesses to Walter about planning the demise of Anne and plotting to lock up Laura in the asylum. Hartridges investigative character also amplifies itself in this chapter as he finds out that all her claims about Fosco were right after the confession (Collins, 452). The dream team understands that Laura had become a liability for herself thus there's no way they could get her to verify her own identity at this stage she is mentally unstable.
Chapter 3 of the woman in white brings out a clear understanding of the characters with the main focus being Fosco and his confession. The tone of the narrative changes in various parts of the chapter creating an exciting rush of adrenaline and arousing emotion. The themes of identity and women's place in society are evident throughout the chapter. It also establishes a deep connection to the reader while bringing out the creative, intuitive mind of the author. The chapter sets the stage for the readers to gain a deeper understanding of the book and subsequent chapters.
Collins, Wilkie. "The Woman in White, ed." Julian Symons,(Pb) Penguin English Library (1996).
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