The Woman in White: Marian Halcombe, or Checkmate on Women’s Empowerment
Keywords:women's empowerment, feminism, Victorian patriarchal discourse, Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
Wilkie Collins’s fraudulent rhetoric of protest against patriarchal Victorian oppression is manifested through his manipulation of Marian Halcombe’s character: she does not represent an attainable example of women’s empowerment but rather of women’s subordination. Marian confronts Victorian patriarchal discourse through the doomed, symbolic games of chess she plays with Fosco and Collins, but she is inevitably disciplined, tamed, and transformed into the perfect “Angel in the House.” When the novel concludes, neither gender roles will have been changed nor equality attained, and feminine readers will have been lured into accepting that resignation, sacrifice and submission are the only alternatives.
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