Study Guide

The Woman in White Marriage

By Wilkie Collins

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Marriage in The Woman in White is more like "tying the noose" than "tying the knot." Marriage is powerful in this book—it has the power to alter fates, to change people, and to expose people (especially women) to a lot of danger.

And, as the different marriages in this book show, it's rarely about love. Instead of roses and sunshine, we get fake marriages, abusive marriages, psychologically controlling marriages, and pseudo-marriages. On the whole, marriage isn't portrayed as a very positive institution in the novel. The message seems to be that, for your own safety, you should either marry for love or don't bother marrying at all.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Based on the details Fosco provides and the details we get about the former Eleanor Fairlie, do we get any hints as to why he marries the countess?
  2. Overall, is the novel critical of marriage?
  3. Does the novel present marriage as a positive or negative thing for women?
  4. How does Walter's relationship with Laura evolve over the course of the story?

Chew on This

There are no true love matches in the book; even Walter marries partially for monetary and security concerns.

In a way, Walter marries both Laura and Marian.

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