Looking into the Light (Future)

Image from the Trout Gallery archives in Dickinson College. (http://collections.troutgallery.org/Obj18179?sid=59379&x=614465)(Image courtesy of the archives of Dickinson College’s Trout Gallery)

The etching “Looking into the future” features a young woman on a balcony looking longingly up into the sky. Wearing a long white dress, she exemplifies the ideal Victorian woman–the “Angel in the House,” as Furneaux says in her article. As we’ve previously discussed, the white dress implies the woman’s purity and innocence. However, the dress darkens as it gets further and further into the room, possibly suggesting that the woman has had a bleak past and is only just coming out of the darkness. In the poem “My Last Duchess,” the portrait of the late duchess is hidden behind a curtain, a tradition that is often seen in the Victorian Era. Although the drapes depicted in the etching surround a window instead of a portrait (which doesn’t directly imply that they’re a symbol for mourning), they still add to the gloomy atmosphere of the room and adding to the implication that the woman’s past lurks behind her. However, the drapes are tied back, which could suggest that the woman has successfully moved on from her past and is not letting it get in the way of her future. Furthermore,the beautiful and decorative column next to the woman seems to stand almost entirely in the light, so maybe it could be interpreted as a pillar of life that represents strength and stability.

I do not believe that there are any passages to directly support this (?), but I see Laura Fairlie when I look at the woman in this etching. Although Laura’s life isn’t entirely applicable to this etching, the dark and gloomy past behind the woman might be Laura’s marriage to Sir Percival, her time spent in the mental asylum, and the time she spent hiding with Walter and Marian. Like I mentioned in my previous post, Laura seems to be happier than ever when she and Walter are married, so perhaps her marriage is her first step out into the light. Laura may or may not be the “Angel in the House” depending on your view of her, and given her past you might not see her as pure and innocent. However, I personally do see Laura Fairlie (or Hartright) in this “light.”