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The Woman in White | Quotes


I am, with the mighty merchant's note in my hand, as large as life, as hot as fire, and as happy as a king!

Professor Pesca, Part 1, Chapter 1

Professor Pesca is a slightly ridiculous Italian friend of Walter Hartright's. Here he is delightedly moving the narrative forward by providing Hartright with the letter that will gain him employment at Limmeridge House.


There, as if ... dropped from the heaven—stood the figure of a solitary woman, dressed ... in white garments.

Walter Hartright, Part 1, Chapter 1

The Woman in White, Anne Catherick, plays a key role in the story. In this scene, she appears to Hartright at a crossroads by moonlight and relays mysterious references to people and places associated with his new job.


It will always remain my private persuasion that nature was absorbed in making cabbages when Mrs. Vesey was born.

Walter Hartright, Part 1, Chapter 1

Hartright, arriving at Limmeridge, humorously describes Mrs. Vesey, Laura's old governess, who is placid to the point of being nearly vegetative.


The woman who first gives life ... to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature.

Walter Hartright, Part 1, Chapter 1

Hartright describes Laura Fairlie, as for the first time he falls hopelessly in love.


The foreboding of some undiscoverable danger lying hid from us ... [in] the future was strong on me.

Walter Hartright, Part 1, Chapter 1

Collins uses the literary technique of foreshadowing many times in the novel. Although saddened that he must leave Laura, Hartright is even more distressed by foreboding for her future.


There are many varieties of sharp practitioners ... The hardest of all to deal with are [those] who overreach you under the disguise of inveterate good humor.

Mr. Gilmore, Part 1, Chapter 2

Mr. Gilmore, the Fairlie family lawyer, tries to protect Laura's fortune from the scheming Sir Percival. He has difficulty, however, dealing with Mr. Merriman, Percival's deceptively friendly lawyer. Collins possibly uses the solicitor's name Merriman as a rather pointed pun.


If I only had the privileges of a man, I would ... tear away ... to meet the rising sun.

Marian Halcombe, Part 2, Chapter 1

Throughout the book, Holcombe resents the restrictions placed on her gender and wishes that she were a man. Here she describes her desire to hasten the reunion with Laura by taking a fast horse and galloping through the night.


My respect for ... my own ... petticoats ... exceeds my respect for all the Elizabethan bedrooms in the kingdom.

Marian Halcombe, Part 2, Chapter 1

Halcombe is a woman of common sense and intelligence. Here she declines a tour of a disused portion of Blackwater Park, since wandering the dusty rooms would ruin her clothes and provide no positive outcome.


The frogs were croaking, and the rats were slipping in and out of the shadowy water, like live shadows of themselves.

Marian Halcombe, Part 2, Chapter 1

Collins uses highly descriptive language to create mood and develop symbols. Here, Marian describes the ominous atmosphere at the lake on the grounds of Blackwater, the location where Sir Percival and Count Fosco begin their villainous plot.


He would blandly kiss his white mice and twitter to his canary birds amid an assembly of English foxhunters.

Marian Halcombe, Part 2, Chapter 1

Count Fosco, despite his evil nature and vast size, keeps canaries and white mice as pets. Halcombe grudgingly admires his willingness to show affection for these little animals, even at the risk of criticism from his peers.


English Society, Miss Halcombe, is as often the accomplice as it is the enemy of crime.

Count Fosco, Part 2, Chapter 1

Count Fosco is a smooth, charming villain. Here he relates to Halcombe and Laura part of his wholly amoral philosophy of crime.


The pestilence that wastes, the arrow that strikes, the sea that drowns, the grave that closes over love and hope, are steps of my journey.

Walter Hartright, Part 2, Chapter 1

At Blackwater Park, Halcombe has a dream about Hartright. Readers will learn that the dream has supernatural elements. The dangers Hartright describes are events he actually survives on his expedition.


I could draw your secret out of you, if I liked, as I draw this finger out of the palm of my hand.

Count Fosco, Part 2, Chapter 1

Fosco is a far more dangerous man than Sir Percival, with whom he converses here. His comment refers to his skills at interrogation and also alludes to the mesmerism—or hypnotism—he exerts. He controls various individuals—particularly his wife—through his hypnotic powers.


Creaking shoes invariably upset me for the day.

Mr. Fairlie, Part 2, Chapter 2

Frederick Fairlie is a petty, self-centered hypochondriac, who places his comforts above all other considerations. Here he debates whether to receive a visitor who might have creaking shoes—despite the possible importance of the message she is bringing.


As the widow of a clergyman of the Church of England ... I have been taught to place the claims of truth above all other considerations.

Mrs. Michelson, Part 2, Chapter 3

Mrs. Michelson, Sir Percival's housekeeper, makes it clear that not only her religion but her place in society makes honesty of utmost importance to her.

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