One of Wilkie Collins’ talents is playing with the psyches of his readers. In No Name
, this manifests through the question of who is the real villain in this story. Victorian readers would most likely have pointed the finger at Magdalen, yet ironically she’s our protagonist. From my readings of Victorian fiction, an author portraying the main character as a villain was a rare occurrence. Wilkie himself tries his best at pointing the finger at Mrs. Lecount. But while she does seem villainous in terms of her animosity and hate towards Magdalen, can it really be said that she is evil? In some ways, I felt Mrs. Lecount was justified in some of her actions. And I think the same could be said for Magdalen. Ultimately, I feel that the real villain in this story is something much bigger, especially when considering the underlying circumstances that cause the events that take place throughout this story. Thus in some ways, No Name
reminds me of Dickens’ Bleak House
Collins is also excellent at building up “sensational” suspense. This book is near 800 pages, yet I never once felt bored. I was immediately swept up into the story...easily excited by all of those little hints and details...almost swooning when Kirke came onto the scene! Ooh...it was embarrassing, yet it was so much fun. ;)
As a side note, like Dickens, Collins is also great at creating caricatures. I absolutely loved Captain Wragge and his wife. Their names are priceless, but that’s nothing compared to how they progress in this story.