Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

WINDSOR CASTLE illustrates various ways in which serious organizational problems can arise despite the author’s careful adherence to what looks like neat structural division. The book shares with the body of William Harrison Ainsworth’s fiction a variety of significant features: a complicated series of more or less interwoven actions and intrigues interlaced with historical matter, introducing a complex dimension all its own, as well as important architectural and scientific backgrounds and supernatural events, or what appear to be fated occurrences. The book is also well researched, and descriptions and action scenes are as superbly drawn as in Ainsworth’s other novels. The author’s use of subplots, however, is a feature that is disturbing and requires some consideration.

It must not be assumed that Ainsworth’s subplots are always mere padding. Frequently, such subplots significantly enlarge the scope of the principal action of the novel, but in WINDSOR CASTLE, Ainsworth repeatedly introduces motifs that he fails to develop fully. For example, the unhappy romance of Surrey and the fair Geraldine, although it serves to illustrate the power of Henry VIII, is too sketchily treated to sustain interest.

There are other loose ends in the book, but they do not really impair the structure. Book 6, for example, takes place seven years after the first five parts, but, showing as it does the downfall of Anne Boleyn, it is a...

(The entire section is 422 words.)