The Law and the Lady between Emancipation and Reversion to Order
As it often happens in literature, the staging of a miscarriage of justice (or allegedly so) gives occasion to criticize individual provisions of the law, and betrays a general underlying mistrust towards it, as well as an unavowed competition for discoursive authority. Fiorella’s article is a case study of The Law and the Lady (1874) by Wilkie Collins, an ambiguous detective novel which embarks on the exposure of the so-called ‘Scotch verdict’, and more importantly, of the socio-cultural law of the gender-based separation of roles, only to relapse on a seemingly traditional ending (which is expression of traditional mores), ultimately rejecting its ideological premise. Fiorella’s argument is that not only the closure but the whole of Collins’s literary project is shaped by an unresolved ambivalence of outlook, which is most evident in the attempt of a compromise between the conflicting codes of the melodrama and the detective novel.
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