In Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, Walter Hartright begins the narrative by stating that, because “the Law is still … the pre-engaged servant of the long purse,” he has arranged the novel to reveal the truth (5). The author, then, puts the law on trial by engaging the interplay between legal questions of witness credibility and testimonial evidence and their impact on social factors such as class and gender. The law’s emphasis on externality leads the system to privilege the snakelike Fosco over the heroic Walter, Laura, and Marian, signaling the courts' capital offence. Although the novel is able to uncover this critical failure of the legal system to address the needs of society's most vulnerable, Collins also foregrounds the text's reliance on circumstantiality to tell a story. Because this reliance on appearances is the source of the law's shortcomings, The Woman in White is, ultimately, a text that draws attention to the need for critical reflection on the stories we tell each other and ourselves.
"Hearsay Evidence: Legal Discourse, Circumstantiality, and The Woman in White,"
Vol. 10, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/globaltides/vol10/iss1/1