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Class in Victorian Society.

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Introduction

Class in Victorian Society Victorian society was very different from ours. The age was in fact revolutionary. Many writers's for the first time expressed their views in writing and books were widely available to anyone with the money to buy them. Despite this, most readers were still upper class and most books were written for upper classes. This age in literary has given us a very stereotypical image of the Victorians as they are for the most part about the lives of the upper classes. The woman in white is another example of the melodramatic Victorian novel that we are so used to but through this many of Wilkie Collins own opinions on the actual state of affairs in the class divided Britain of the 1900's shine through. The very first time that Collins blatantly allows himself to express his feelings happens in the early stages of Walter Hartrights stay at Limmeridge House when he meets Mr Fairlie. Whereas Walter is shown to be active and sympathising with the lower classes, Mr Fairlie, who is a much more aristocratic man, is shown to be a very feminine character and despises the working classes. Collins show's this during the meeting with Walter. During the meeting, Fairlie calls his servant an Ass twice and he also calls the children of the village brats and plebs. This portrayal of these characters perhaps represents Collin's opinion of the upper classes, and more importantly, the aristocracy. ...read more.

Middle

not to believe Anne Catherick than they will be shown to be wrong and will feel bad for not trusting the proletariat character. To further this argument, Collins shows his views very quickly, as though to affect the reader before the issue passes out of their minds, and unsurprisingly to the modern reader, but perhaps more shocking to a Victorian reader, he sides with Anne Catherick. Walter instantly believes Anne Catherick as he says when he discusses the matter with Marian "there is not a shadow of doubt" even though he knows little about Percival Glyde or Anne Catherick or a motive. Whilst one could very feasibly argue that Walters's decision was based on hope as opposed to being a fair conclusion, Collins conveniently makes this of secondary important next to the motive. Also, because Walter is the only perspective viewed at this point the reader is much more likely to side with his opinion. By doing this, Collins makes the reader subconsciously distrust's the rest of aristocracy in the book (Marian and Laura excused) for the rest of the novel as they try to uncover the plot which they have only been told by the unreliable source of a madwoman. This is very effective in portraying Collins own views on the upper classes. By this time Collins had introduced the villains of the novel, he had already carefully introduced a lot of his opinions but the strange characters he devises as villains go further to emphasise his points. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that the pair lost their fortune because of Fosco's secret, as opposed to Sir Percivals is just pathetic irony. Collins was obviously very critical of the aristocracy and even to an extent the establishment in the woman in white. He constantly makes his opinion shown in different situations in the novel and whilst some are subtle, most a blatantly obvious for anyone searching for ulterior motives for writing the novel. The simple stereotyping of the various aristocrats, and especially Mr Fairlie does more than enough to tell us that Collins was not particularly fond of the rich in the novel, despite the fact that the novel is written for the aristocrats, and the fact that Collins was in fact a member of the upper classes. This maybe shows up a small part of Collin's mentality that was reflected in his lifestyle. Collins obviously didn't want to be part of the upper classes and probably much more importantly did not want to be seen to be a respectable member of the upper classes. This perhaps shows that Collins hated the restrictions of Victorian protocol and this perhaps explains partly his bizarre lifestyle. Despite this hatred of the upper classes, Wilkie Collins doesn't seem to like the working classes much either. He seemed to dislike the down treading of the working classes but also didn't seem to think much of them anyway. From this we can conclude that Collins really regarded the middle classes as the important people of the country and this is maybe why he seems so keen to join them. 1 ...read more.

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