The Similarities are the Key

“If we had loved her less dearly, if the instinct implanted in us by that love had not been far more certain than any exercise of reasoning, far keener than any process of observation, even we might have hesitated, on first seeing her” (Collins 433). The main functions of the similarities in the looks of Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie have finally been revealed for the most part through this passage. Anne and Laura share similar features because they are likely related, and this feature functions in the plot as both a target for deception by Sir Glyde and Count Fosco, and as an opportunity for love and heroism by Walter Hartright.

The similarities between Anne and Laura allow for Anne to die and to be “mistaken” as Laura, so that Laura is declared dead and the real Laura is believed to be Anne. Walter refers to the similarities between Anne and Laura as the “fatal resemblance” (433). He views the mistake of Laura’s identity as a figurative death of the Laura that he knew. Lady Glyde is gone, and life in an asylum has changed Laura. Laura is no longer herself, she in some ways has taken on both the literal and figurative identity of Anne. She is believed to be Anne, and for that reason, she begins to fulfill Anne’s role as primarily a weak, seemingly child-like patient.

The fatal resemblance that has led to Laura’s dark new fate also allows for Walter to truly profess his love for her as he and Marian are the only ones who recognize Laura, and the only ones who want to reveal her true identity and discover the truth behind the mistake. This is the opportunity for Walter Hartright to be a hero of sorts and to attempt to get his lady-love back instead of being perpetually stuck in a pseudo family created by himself, Marian, and the newly child-like Laura.

2 thoughts on “The Similarities are the Key”

  1. If we look at the idea of the restoration of class and social mobility (as we see with Laura and Walter) it is worth taking a look at Charles Dickens’ works. Dickens published some of Collins’ works so they were fairly close as writers go. Dickens’ works include titular character Oliver Twist and Pip of Great Expectations who are orphans who eventually come into a fortune (whether by virtue of their unknown class, the goodness of others, or a combination of both). In that case is Walter the main protagonist? He gains social mobility, but Marian and Laura also regain their status, and since both sisters are orphans does that mean they are the protagonists, or all three?

  2. I very much agree with the ideas in this article. The resemblance between Anne and Laura is the cause for many situations that occur throughout the story. This article connects well with the article “Happiness in the Darkest of Times”. You are right that Laura’s resemblance to Anne allowed Walter to confess his love to her, but it is also the resemblance that ultimately allows them to marry. As the “Happiness in the Darkest of Times” article claimed, Laura’s new position in the lower class allows her to marry Walter. She never would have become lower class if not for her incredible resemblance to Anne. It is also interesting to look at how Walter’s feelings towards Laura change depending on how similarly she looks to Anne. The more Laura looks like Anne, the less Walter is attracted to her.

Comments are closed.