Marian Halcombe And Effeminate Men English Literature Essay

Harmonizing to Phillip O’Neill “ few of the characters in The Woman in White appear to be wholly subsumed by the traditional markers of gender. ” ( 118 ) Some of the characters that do present traditional markers of gender in this novel are Laura Fairlie, Anne Catherick, Mr. Vesey, Madame Fosco, Vincent Gilmore and Mrs. Catherick, Anne ‘s female parent. As it has been discussed in the old chapter, Marian Holcombe is “ one of a figure of characters who are used to destabilise gender boundaries ” ( Pykett Collins 126 ) because she is a adult female “ alarmingly ‘masculine ‘ ” ( Rance 13 ) and the other characters that are non precisely proper representatives of their gender are work forces who have feminine behavior and visual aspects.

The novel is composed from several narrations and the first narration is that of Walter Hartright, who is one of the chief male supporters. Queerly, there are no mentions to his physical visual aspect and no descriptions of his figure throughout the novel. However, in the first portion of the novel, his manner of behaving, speaking and his frequent mentions to his emotional provinces correlated with the manner Marian Halcombe speaks and treats him do of him a adult male with more feminine traits than masculine 1s, an effeminate adult male. Harmonizing to Lyn Pykett he is “ a adult male whose ain category and gender individuality is presented from the beginning as being highly unstable. ” ( Collins 126 ) His effeminateness does nil more than to stress the strong and determinate character of Marian Halcombe.

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When he arrives at Limmeridge house and first meets Laura Farlie he is incapable of holding a treatment with her and he says “ Detecting my vacillation, and no uncertainty imputing it, of course plenty, to some fleeting shyness on my portion, Miss Halcombe took the concern of speaking, as easy and readily as usual, into her ain custodies. ” ( Collins 41 ) This is the first case when Marian takes the lead and helps Walter flight from an abashing state of affairs, when it should hold been the opposite. There are several other minutes when she is more resolute than he is and knows what is best for him. Walter is cognizant of his failing and after he falls in love with Laura he avoids stating her that and he says “ I felt that I must project off the subjugation under which I was populating, at one time and for of all time — yet how to move for the best, or what to state foremost, was more than I could state. ” ( Collins 55 ) Unlike him, Marian, with few exclusions, ever knows what to state and make. At this point in the novel he lacks mental strength and bravery.

Walter ‘s state of affairs is that of Laura Fairlie, who like her is protected and advised by Marian, but in his instance because of his deficiency of assurance in his manhood and adulthood. For case, when Walter finds out that Laura is traveling to get married Sir Percival, him being “ a nervous, sensitive type ” ( Law & A ; Maunder 75 ) is affected by the intelligence and feels a great emotional hurting. Marian tells him

Oppress it! ” she said. “ Here, where you foremost saw her, oppress it! Do n’t shrivel under it like adult female. Tear it out ; tread it under pes like a adult male! ” The suppressed emphasis with which she spoke, the strength which her will — concentrated in the expression she fixed on me, and in the clasp on my arm that she had non yet relinquished — communicated to mine, steadied me. We both waited for a minute in silence. At the terminal of that clip I had justified her generous religion in my manhood — I had, externally at least, recovered my self-denial. ( Collins 59-60 )

From this fragment consequences the fact that Marian is a strong adult female and Walter a weak adult male, maleness is performed by Marian and muliebrity by Walter. Walter seems to recover his manhood merely when Marian is with him because when she is non he is once more overwhelmed by his sensitiveness and failing, like the minute when he leaves Limmeridge House at Marian ‘s demand and he says adieu to his darling Laura. He begins to shout over Laura ‘s manus and he confesses “ my cryings fell on it, my lips pressed it — non in love ; oh, non in love, at that last minute, but in the torment and the self-abandonment of desperation. ” ( Collins 109 ) His desperation comes from his incapacity to get by like a adult male with the difficult state of affairs of go forthing his love, Laura.

However, in the last half of the fresh Hartright reappears as a “ changed adult male ” ( Collins 366 ) and he resembles Marian to a great extent because as he confesses “ I had tempered my nature afresh.In the austere school of appendage and danger my will had learnt to be strong, my bosom to be resolute, my head to trust on itself. I had gone out to wing from my ain hereafter. I came back to face it, as a adult male should. ” ( Collins 366 ) On one manus his maleness is affirmed now because he is strong, resolute and autonomous and ready to move as a adult male should. On the other manus the fact that he had to larn how to be resolute, strong and self reliant, these being features of maleness, shows that gender is non natural ( Butler 49 ) and that a adult male needs non ever be born masculine. Harmonizing to Law & A ; Maunder “ he provokes commiseration, esteem, and aggravation in more-or-less equal steps, but he is besides portion of the focal point of the text ‘s involvement in inquiries of gender and gender. ” ( 75 )

As Lyn Pykett observes, in Collins ‘s novel, “ sex-gender hybridity is non restricted to Marian and Walter ” ( Collins 123 ) . Mr. Fairlie is clearly an effeminate adult male and this shows from his physical description made by Walter and the manner he behaves. He is “ the maestro of the house ” ( Collins 31 but “ an invalid ” ( Collins 25 ) and his passiveness is another marker of Victorian muliebrity that makes of him a “ languidly emasculate ” ( Law & A ; Maunder 76 ) adult male. Walter describes him as follows

His beardless face was thin, worn, and transparently pale, but non wrinkled ( aˆ¦ ) His pess were effeminately little, and were clad in buff-colored silk stockings, and small womanish bronze-leather slippers. Two rings adorned his white delicate custodies ( aˆ¦ ) Upon the whole, he had a frail, languidly-fretful, over-refined expression — something singularly and unpleasantly delicate in its association with a adult male, and, at the same clip, something which could by no possibility have looked natural and appropriate if it had been transferred to the personal visual aspect of a adult female ( Collins 31 )

There is nil masculine in his description and nil masculine in his behaviour either because he is ever kicking of something and particularly of his wellness “ Pray pardon me. But could you plan to talk in a lower key? In the deplorable province of my nervousnesss, loud sound of any sort is indefinable anguish to me. You will excuse an invalid? I merely say to you what the deplorable province of my wellness obliges me to state to everybody. ” ( Collins 32 ) It can be said that he even net incomes from his province of wellness and ever attempts to portray himself as a victim. He accentuates his infirmity although he should hold hidden it. He lacks physical strength and admires Walter because he can transport a portfolio of drawings to his room “ How nice to be so strong! ” ( Collins 36 ) Like a adult female, he relies on his inherent aptitudes when he makes a determination. For case, when he is visited by Count Fosco and he is harassed by the manner he looks at him he says “ My inherent aptitudes told me that I had better close my eyes. I obeyed my inherent aptitudes. ” ( Collins 315 ) He is nil more than “ a package of nervousnesss dressed up to look like a adult male ” ( Collins 314 ) harmonizing to his ain avowal. He is highly sensitive and because of his nervous status he is ever in a bad temper and imagining things. For case, when he is visited by Walter he hears or thinks he hears noises in his pace when cipher is at that place. All noises bother him “ Gently with the drapes, please — the slightest noise from them goes through me like a knife ” ( Collins 36 ) and he is sensitive to visible radiation.

Harmonizing to Lyn Pykett he is “ unpleasantly feminized. ” ( Collins 127 ) In contrast with him is “ the masculine ” ( James 170 ) Marian who despite the fact she emanates maleness is non unpleasant to one ‘s sight. As Lyn Pykett observes “ Collins ‘s representation of the blurring of gender boundaries is sometimes, as in the instance of Frederick Fairlie, associated with grotesquery. ” ( Collins 127 ) Another thing that emphasizes Mr. Fairlie ‘s muliebrity and Marian ‘s maleness is the fact that she is non every bit sensitive as he is and she says “ My nervousnesss are non easy shaken by trifles. ” ( Collins 182 ) This could non hold been said by Mr. Fairlie about himself. Marian knows him good and when she talks with Laura about inquiring him to allow her travel back to Limmeridge House she says “ your uncle is a weak, selfish, worldly adult male ( aˆ¦ ) he will make anything to featherbed his ain laziness, and to procure his ain lull. ” ( Collins 270 ) He is a inactive adult male whereas Marian is active and even if he should hold secured the public assistance of his nieces he merely thinks of himself. As a adult male he should hold protected Laura and Marian but he does non make that, he runs from duties.

Sir Percival Glyde is a adult male who controls his married woman with the power of fright and hurts her physically “ his cruel manus was contusing my arm ” ( Collins 268 ) and emotionally, showing his maleness and therefore the power that is implied with it. Yet, he excessively can be considered an effeminate adult male even if his feminine side is less emphasized throughout the novel than his masculine side. He has some physical traits that are non precisely masculine “ his olfactory organ, directly and handsome, and delicate sufficiency to hold done for a adult female ‘s. His hands the same. ” ( Collins 66 ) On the contrary, Marian has a “ instead big ” ( Collins 25 ) manus. His mode of acting resembles sometimes that of a adult female and Eliza Michaelson observes while go toing at one of his treatments with Laura that “ He seemed to be about as nervous and fluttered, every now and so, as his lady herself. I should ne’er hold supposed that his wellness had been so delicate, or his calm so easy to upset. ” ( Collins 344 ) He looses his composure frequently and is criticized by Count Fosco for that who tells him “ command your unfortunate pique, Percival. ” ( Collins 218 ) He is easy manipulated by his friend Fosco and their relation of friendly relationship is in a manner a version of matrimony where Sir Percival is “ the married woman ” and Fosco “ the hubby ” , in the sense that Fosco is ever stating Percival what to make. Laura is one of the characters that observes that and even declares “ he has so much more power over my hubby than I have. ” ( Collins 202 )

Harmonizing to D.A. Miller “ even in the less touched male characters, jitteriness remains a form of muliebrity. At best it declares Walter still “ unformed, ” and Sir Percival ‘s impersonation that he is non, so to talk, the adult male he is feigning to be. ” ( 151-152 ) I would wish to add that in the instances of Mr. Fairlie, Walter Hartright and Sir Percival their jitteriness merely adds to their incapacity ” to make their gender right ” . ( Butler 178 )

Although Count Fosco has power over his friend Percival and his married woman Eleanor and to a lesser extent over Marian Halcombe he excessively is an emasculate adult male. Again as in the instances of the other emasculate work forces that have been the topic of treatment until this minute his organic structure betrays his effeminateness. Marian is the 1 that gives his description

his face, closely shaven all over, is smoother and freer from all Markss and furrows than mine ( aˆ¦ ) All the smallest features of this unusual adult male have something strikingly original and perplexingly contradictory in them. Fat as he is and old as he is, his motions are amazingly light and easy. He is as noiseless in a room as any of us adult females, and more than that, with all his expression of unmistakable mental soundness and power, he is every bit nervously sensitive as the weakest of us. He starts at opportunity noises every bit inveterately as Laura herself. He winced and shuddered yesterday, when Sir Percival beat one of the spaniels, so that I felt ashamed of my ain privation of tenderness and esthesia by comparing with the Count ( Collins 193-194 )

In this fragment Marian does non merely describes the manner the Count expressions and behaves but besides she compares herself with him merely to happen out that he is much more feminine than she is because he has a good skin color, he is sensitive and appears to be weak. Marian besides compares him with “ a fat St. Cecilia masquerading in male garb ” ( Collins 202 ” In add-on, he has passions that are non manfully, he is fond of “ favored animate beings ” ( Collins 194 ) and “ he has brought with him to this house a cockatoo, two canary-birds, and a whole household of white mice ” ( Collins 194 ) Marian says. He is cognizant of his feminine side and even declares that “ a gustatory sensation for sweetsaˆ¦ is the guiltless gustatory sensation of adult females and kids. I love to portion it with them — it is another bond, beloved ladies, between you and me. ” ( Collins 259 ) He somehow identifies himself with adult females. Unlike Marian who does non sing and does non play the piano he does all this things, demoing he is sentimental and feminine because these were activities specific to adult females in the Victorian period.

The Count passed the forenoon softly indoors, some portion of it in the library, some portion in the drawing-room, playing odds and terminals of music on the piano, and humming to himself. Judging by visual aspects, the sentimental side of his character was persistently inclined to bewray itself still. He was soundless and sensitive, and ready to suspire and pine away ponderously ( as merely fat work forces can suspire and pine away ) on the smallest aggravation ( Collins 258-259 )

Harmonizing to Law & A ; Maunder “ The Count is a baleful presence because, although aged, corpulent, and effeminate, he is besides a chameleon, a fantasy stereotype of enhanced maleness who confronts the native Englishman with his ain sexual insufficiency. ” ( 80 ) I would besides add that the feminized Count Fosco with his chameleonic nature puts Marian Halcombe in the state of affairs of recognizing her ain sexual insufficiency and besides he is used to stress her evildoing from the gender roles that the Victorian society established for adult females.

The chief male characters of The Woman in White, Walter Hartright, Mr. Fairlie, Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco, are all emasculate work forces, although it is true that in the instance of Mr. Fairlie the effeminate features are more obvious than in the instance of the others. They all come in contact with “ the mannish Marian ” ( Miller 174 ) and a comparing between them and her on the one manus outlines her strong, resolute and independent nature and evildoings from the conventional gender norms and functions and on the other manus reveals that maleness and muliebrity are non congenital qualities and qualifying merely work forces and severally lone adult females but acquired through one ‘s Acts of the Apostless.


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