Study Guide

The Woman in White Narrator Point of View

By Wilkie Collins

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Narrator Point of View

Series of First Person Point of View

Trying to describe the narrative technique in The Woman in White can make you crazy, Anne Catherick-style, but we'll give it a go.

The Woman in White is a take on what is known as an epistolary novel—a novel written as a series of letters, diary entries, and various kinds of first-person accounts. So rather than one narrator we have a bunch of 'em.

But unlike most epistolary novels, we have a master narrator: Walter Hartright. He narrates the largest portion of the novel, narrates in the most traditional style, and organizes all the other narratives. Walter is also conscious that he's telling a story that will be read by many.

Walter's awareness of his role as a narrator sets him apart from many of the other narrators, who aren't aware of their audience. Marian's narrative is composed of her private diary entries, which were written mainly for herself—it's a diary, after all. Other characters, such as Mrs. Clements, tell their story directly to Walter in an interview. And still other characters, such as Mrs. Michelson and Mr. Gilbert, write their narratives or testimonies directly to Walter in letter form—these poor suckers think they're writing for Walt's eyes only.

The Woman in White Narrator Point of View Study Group

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