How do Laura and her female counterparts exhibit rebellion in Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

 While not very assertive, Laura, as stated above, refuses to sign over her money to her husband.

The dying Anne, the woman in white, rebels and shows agency when she writes to Laura that Sir Percival's heart is "black as night." She also manages to get to Blackwater Park and reveal that she has in her possession a secret that will ruin Sir Percival. While she does not know what the secret is, it is a mark of her rebellion that she reveals there is one.

The androgynous and strong-willed Marian's whole life could be said to reveal rebellion, as she refuses to conform to "feminine" gender norms. For instance, she plays pool and also can play chess as well as a man, showing her high intelligence, at that time considered a masculine trait. She is outspoken and constantly getting characters to buck up. She objects to and rebels against Laura's marriage to Sir Percival, stating, "No man under heaven deserves these sacrifices." She later counsels the docile Laura to rebel, saying "our endurance must end, and our resistance must begin, today." Supposedly based on the writer George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Marian speaks out against male attempts to put down women as weak and unintelligent.

It could be argued that none of these women, in reality, have much power, but they show agency in banding together to fight the evil and underhanded plots against them.

sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Laura Fairlie, who becomes Lady Glyde, does not exhibit open rebellion until after her arranged marriage to Sir Percival Glyde.  Laura, who is of a kind and yielding disposition, has to be sorely pressed in order to rebell against any kind of male authority.  When her husband attempts to make her sign away all her money (by signing a document he will not allow her to see) Laura at last says no to him, which causes the evil Count Fosco and Sir Percival to panic and start taking greater risks.  Marian, Laura's half-sister, is portrayed as more intelligent and strong-willed than Laura, and she refuses to be either charmed or bullied by Sir Percival and Count Fosco.  Her acts of rebellion include the thrilling scene in which she climbs out onto a porch roof in the pouring rain to spy on Percival's and Fosco's conversation.  Later, when Marian is told by them that Laura has left Blackwater Park, Marian refuses to believe their lies and searches for her.  Probably Marian's biggest act of rebellion is her unfailing quest for the truth throughout the novel.  It is her extremely strong character and unwillingness to back down which makes her so admired by Count Fosco, though she finds him repulsive.

Source: Gutenberg etext of The Woman in White