Study Guide

The Woman in White Family

By Wilkie Collins

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Throw your notions of proper Victorian nuclear families in the garbage where they belong. The Woman in White alone features half-siblings, illegitimate kids, abandoned spouses, and highly unconventional families (see Walter, Marian, and Laura shacking up together as fake siblings).

In this novel, family isn't a set concept. Families are malleable, or moldable: traditional families often take a backseat to the families characters create for themselves. And when we do encounter traditional families, they're often evil and twisted.

Questions About Family

  1. How are families depicted in the novel?
  2. What details do we get about Laura's family, and how do those details tie into Laura's plot? Can Laura's trials and tribulations be viewed as some sort of cosmic punishment for her family's past sins?
  3. How are Marian, Walter, and Laura portrayed as a family unit before they become an actual family when Walter marries Laura?
  4. At the end of the novel, Marian declares her intention to remain an unmarried aunt and to basically remain a permanent fixture in Laura's and Walter's lives. What does this reveal about Marian's character and about the book's take on families?

Chew on This

Laura and Marian's relationship is the most significant relationship in the book.

Women are in a very dangerous position within families. The novel continually shows them lacking control and at the whims of their male relatives.

The Woman in White Family Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...