Jade's Reviews > Armadale

Armadale by Wilkie Collins
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Oct 29, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Before I had read Armadale, I thought it was merely about a murderous woman. I was confused and pleasantly surprised to find that Lydia Gwilt, murderous woman, doesn't even appear till about midway through the book. The beginning deals with the mystery and drama surrounding the four Armadales. One aspect I like about a lot of Victorian novels is that they were published in magazines in monthly installments and I enjoy reading the book and paying attention to where the chapters have been segmented. These segments help with the the foreshadowing and irony throughout the book. These elements help to emphasize how unintelligent and aloof the "hero" is. In other Victorian novels, the hero seems either intelligent or dreamy and Allan Armadale (the main one) is neither of these.

To foil Allan Armadale's self-involved ignorance, is my favorite character, Lydia Gwilt. She's vindictive, cruel, intelligent, and extremely funny. Her success in this story is all due to the stupidity of the Armadales (by this I also mean Midwinter). I think my favorite line in the entire book is when she says she wishes she had a child to beat. "I am in one of my tempers tonight. I want a husband to vex, or a child to beat, or something of that sort. Do you everlike to see the summer insects kill themselves in the candle? I do, sometimes," (166). I don't know what makes this line so funny to me, but I guess it's because she's not the typical gentle female character many Victorian women are painted to be. She's murderous, a bigamist, and a drug addict which definitely helps the story move along and foil Armadale's character which adds a little more depth to the story. Pleasantly at the end, she does have a change of heart and sacrifices herself in order to save her husband which was a surprising twist.

Overall, I enjoyed Armadale because it wasn't what I expected and I loved his use of foreshadowing, irony, humor, and his foiling of Armadale and Gwilt. For my own writing, I would like to implement some of the same humor Collins uses. He has a subtle humor, but once I picked it up I actually chuckled out loud like with Gwilt wishing she had a child to beat.
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