By John Sutherland, Wilkie Collins
While the aged Allan Armadale makes a bad confession on his death-bed, he has little suggestion of the repercussions to come back, for the key he finds consists of the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues gasoline the plot of this gripping melodrama: a story of pressured identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, cash – and homicide. the nature of Lydia Gwilt horrified modern critics, with one reviewer describing her as 'One of the main hardened woman villains whose units and needs have ever blackened fiction'. She continues to be one of the so much enigmatic and engaging ladies in nineteenth-century literature and the darkish center of this such a lot sensational of Victorian 'sensation novels'.
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Extra resources for Armadale (2nd Edition)
The next day, ready to duel, both their faces change color, paling as if they were spear hunters waiting for a lion or a bear. Then they are dueling, not like men, but Dwelling Places of Chivalry and Nature 27 metamorphically, like “a wood leon,” “a crueel tigre”—like wild boars “That frothen whit as foom for ire wood” (line 1659). Close to death, Palamon and Arcite have reached the bottom of their descent. Deep in the grove and ankledeep in blood, they are like the Minotaur at the center of his labyrinth, surrounded by his own inner darkness, his human reason utterly submerged.
While the theater is sixty paces high, the pyre is twenty fathoms broad. After the wood is piled on, Arcite is laid among cloth of gold, garlands, jewels, and spices—“richesse” analogous to the carvings and other expensive adornments Theseus lavished on the theater. The Greeks assemble in a “huge route” like the tournament audience, and as before, “goon / Hoom to Athenes, when the pley is doon” (lines 2963–64). Like the theater, the funeral pyre gathers to itself the world of chivalry in a ritual celebration.
As private dreams become public acts, in other words, the hunters become the hunted. We are going to find that the Miller’s Tale works in similar ways. To begin with, the house contains Alysoun, and so it becomes the setting—or better, the goal—of all the significant action in the tale. Each of the five episodes begins with one of the characters leaving or having left the house, creating an apparent opportunity for Nicholas or Absalom to approach Alysoun. Each time, the following interaction ends with a kind of music, which may or may not indicate harmony with Alysoun.