The Woman in White

The Masculine and Feminine Identity in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White

Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White portrays the distinctly partitioned sexual spheres in the Victorian era, as is reflected through the weak and victimized female characters and the powerful and domineering male characters. The Victorian femininity is characterized through passivity, endurance and unassertive meekness, while masculinity is characterized by energy, action and resoluteness. The passive Laura Fairlie reflects the prevailing expectation that women should be submissive and obedient. The fair and delicate Laura who exudes feminine weakness exemplifies the passivity of the Victorian femininity in the uttermost, while the plain and energetic Marian Halcombe poses a serious defiance to the prevailing Victorian womanhood by scorning feminine passivity and embracing masculine energy and resoluteness, though with ultimate failure. On the other hand, the active and energetic men like Percival, Fosco and Walter embody the masculine energy and resoluteness. In contrast to the comparatively weak and often victimized women, the men take an active hand to shape the course of their lives, despite their moral discrepancies. Percival and Fosco use their evil energy and resolution to shape destiny to their advantages. Walter...

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