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Moral Judgments In William Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White

Updated on August 3, 2016
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herrypaul has a bachelor's degree in English Literature, he likes analyzing economic, political, literature, and religion views.

This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure and what a Man's resolution can achieve.
This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure and what a Man's resolution can achieve. | Source

The aim of this thesis is to present Collins' The Woman In White.

The novel is influenced by the biography of the author as well as the British history of the nineteenth century. As a native of St Marylebone, an area of London where he lives for most of his life, Collins could draw a wealth of experience and first-hand observation. He had the artistic eye for painting that makes him to develop a fascination with the parallels between his private life and his stories. His experiences were important sources to write The Woman In White, and clearly expressed in the novel. His sense of aesthetics and art of story-telling probably found inspiration for his novel. They are detailed naturalistic observation, biological metaphors, strong and sentimental human sympathy, a tone and cadence frequently reminiscent of the Bible.

As vividly shown by Collins through The Woman In White, the deep concern about crime and the justice system represent the British people a massive challenge to traditional thinking about the meaning of freedom. There was a decline of the moral and belief of the society, such as selfishness, greed, hatred, and jealousy. Collins dramatizes the problem but propounds no specific solutions. He thus manages to be radically suggestive without being doctrinaire, a combination which helped make The Woman In White "the first detective novel."

The novel talks about a conspiracy doing by Count Fosco and Sir Percival, the antagonists of the novel, which involves innocent people to accomplice a crime. There are a number of characters designed to be the poor women and the wicked men. The young hero, the protagonist of the novel, spurned in love for lack of good timing. Collins teased and denounced the people in authority, in the nineteenth century, people who hold the power and the systems that afflicted the helpless, and distressed people, as the victims of despotism and arbitrariness, and toward human misery.

Collins ends his story in a certain way that a woman's patience can endure, and that a man's resolution can achieve. He was an author talented in playing with the readers' emotion. He is good at making the reader have the feeling of heartache, sorrow, hate, anger, jealousy, frustration, disappointment, love, admiration, happiness, fear-all of human emotion.

The Woman In White may bring a meaningful teaching that human beings have their own responsibilities to regard life, their surroundings and the world. Human power, abilities and authorities can be useful, because of their decisions. The usage of law enforcement should be balanced with the sake of human being and nature. In relation with others, one should come along with the weakling to struggle against injustice.

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Themis, Itojyuku, Shibuya-ku, Japan.Pancasila.
Themis, Itojyuku, Shibuya-ku, Japan.
Themis, Itojyuku, Shibuya-ku, Japan. | Source
Pancasila. | Source

In accordance with what we, Indonesian people, are facing today, we may learn and get useful teaching or message of the novel.

We are being confronted with serious self-interest or selfish attitude, in addition to other other aspects of life. Let's keep thinking about the dark memory of brutal action done by apparatus of govt, such as: Tragedy Semanggi I 1998, and East Timor 1998. Many innocent Indonesia people are suffering from all wrongdoing that done by several unresponsible people for their own interests, had the heart to fall their people down inhumanely. These injustice feelings make sense because of touching inequality of treatment in the machinery of the law. Rechtsstaat involves a necessary signal for a state as the shape of public authorities managed to be based on the law. Indifferentisme is in contradiction with nation's civilization, Pancasila, and UUD 1945. The riot of May 13 and 14, 1998, the annihilation of separatists in Aceh, North Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua, the annihilation of which stigmatized as communists in 1965, tanjung Priok, and East Timor constituted the form of injustice experienced by the weak people. They appeared as a political strategy for the sake of Soeharto's Regime at the time. Ironically, the practice of injustice remains politically secret and have not been revealed yet.

Through The Woman In White, Collins presents social, culture and historical problems in England during the nineteenth century. British problems at the time may be compared with the problems we, Indonesians, are facing recently. It is advisable for Indonesia people; especially the young generations study these and have a better understanding about Moral Judgments. Since a literary work also bears values of life that its readers learn, and goes beyond times and spaces. The Woman In White may bring a message of respect for human right and freedom, justice, solidarity and unity in human society. The novel may help us to watch out these possibilities. We are now in troubles and feel insecure and we dream of a quiet and peaceful life and free from danger and anxiety. We can release our apprehension an realize our ideals by appreciating solidarity and unity, helping each other, learning to care for each other as well as working hard in the spirit of honesty and integrity. by doing so, we may solve our problem and make a better life.

From the discussion above the written concludes:

Literature gives a pleasure or enjoyment, but also meaningful teachings and values of life. Literature is not just a mean of killing time. Yet, it helps us grow, personally and intellectually and provides an objective based for our knowledge and understanding. It helps us connect ourselves to the social and cultural context of which we are a part and it enables us to recognize our dreams struggles in different circumstances and societies that we would never otherwise get to know. In this novel Collins teaches us to become a person who has sense of law, and a believe of fairness and equality. This is obvious because, as stated in The Declaration of Human Rights 1948 that every person is equal.

Note: East TimorIn 1999, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory, and East Timorbecame the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002 and joined the UN and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

This thesis is merely information, not to offend any party! If you have any comment, comment below!


The Woman In White, published 1993 by Wordsworth Editions Limited 8b East Street, ware, Hertfordshire SG12 9HJ. Introduction and Notes added Scott Brewster in 2002.


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