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The Woman in White – Letter from Marian to Walter

Dear Mr Hartright, Forgive me, as I would usually start my letter to a dear friend asking how they are and wishing them all the best. However, without further ado, I must go straight into the dreadful events that have occurred since your departure from Limmeridge House. Whilst by no means do I intend to put any weight on your shoulders or worry you unnecessarily, I feel it is my duty to let you know of the disheartening proceedings which have taken place.

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Sir Percival Glyde and my poor, innocent little sister Laura have returned from their honeymoon, and moved into his appalling and run down estate, Blackwater Park in Hampshire.

Simply writing the name gives me shivers, my friend. It’s absolutely dreadful! The unkempt quarters are no place for a young woman to live. The dark, eerie atmosphere and the overgrown sinister looking trees are enough to make anyone wish to flee as soon as possible. As you will recall, shortly before your departure, you and I discussed matters concerning that of Anne Catherick. I doubt since leaving you will have thought further into the case, Mr Hartright, and in honesty, neither had I.

A little while ago I was passing through the grounds of this dreadful place where my petite young sister would shortly move in to, and I heard a noise that seemed to be coming from the boathouse. The clamour resembled a faint whining noise; the sound of a pained creature fighting for survival. Sympathetic and concerned, I naturally decided to investigate the source of this noise. Upon entering the boathouse, I found a dog whimpering in pain. The poor creature was curled on the floor, blood seeping from its helpless body. Without a second thought, I picked up the deprived being in my arms.

In an attempt to staunch the flow of blood, I put pressure on its wounds in hope that the defenceless mortal might be able to continue its journey. Upon presenting this injured animal to Sir Percival, he was furious. At first I could not comprehend why the sight of this unwell animal was enough to send Sir Percival into a flying rage. However, Mr Hartright, I was soon to find out the precise reasons why. Now, Mr Hartright, it would seem that Anne Catherick’s involvement with Sir Percival is far greater than we had ever imagined possible.

I discovered a little later on that the dog belonged to Mrs Catherick; Anne Catherick’s mother. Mrs Catherick has been secretly visiting these dreadful grounds in an attempt to uncover more details about her daughter. You may recall that the last time we discussed matters involving Anne Catherick that it was not long after her letter to my sister, in which she revealed the terrible things she knew about Sir Percival. You and I my dear friend decided it best that we find her and attempt to talk to her but if you recollect, this was to no avail.

Before we could resolve the matter, you had already made your departure from Limmeridge House. It pains me to inform you, my dear friend that this is not least of the bad news. I also regret to inform you that Sir Percival’s drinking problem has worsened. For a short period of time, it seemed hopeful and possible that an end to this horrific crisis could be in sight. Alas, this was not to be. The baronet’s temper is spiralling out of control and his anger appears to be growing each and every day, in direct proportion to the quantity of alcohol he consumes.

I have, however, grown increasingly wary of one man in particular, Mr Hartright. His name is Count Fosco. He’s not quite what he seems. When I was first introduced to him, I believed him to be a trustworthy man; I was captivated by him. He appeared to be a very intelligent, sensitive and understanding person, whose words would linger in the air as they rolled off his tongue. I turned out to be very wrong. His charming manner compliments his strange and wonderful character, making me believe he was the kind of person to stay true to his word – an honest man.

Unfortunately I could not have been more wrong. I overheard Sir Percival Glyde passing words, foolishly loudly, through dishonest means, with his deceiving friend Count Fosco. They were discussing their plan to obtain Laura’s money. Appalled and shocked, I continued to listen closely, and it soon became apparent that the baronet was in great debt and in desperate and urgent need of money. These sinful men deemed it reasonable to try to force a young, innocent woman – not involved in the matter – to pass over all her money, the money her late father left her, to this evil and egotistic monster.

The controlling demon tried to force Laura to sign a document. She refused, and I backed her up, of course. He may be a powerful man, but my sister is a strong minded individual and I refuse to let anyone take advantage of her. At that moment, Sir Percival left Blackwater House, raging with fury. It’s clear to me that this man is not accustomed to having his wishes rejected. Without doubt, he is used to getting his way on matters. Not only is he a typical male figure, but he also has a higher status than almost all of his acquaintances; he believes this is reason enough that eople should abide by his rules. It’s simply the only explanation for why Percival dealt with this matter in such a foolish manner. As I’m sure you can imagine, my sister was extremely distraught by the events which had taken place recently. I felt so incredibly helpless that I could not offer her any alternative or solution. I could support her to stay strong, but I could not help, believing I was fundamentally useless – you see I wanted to help so much, Mr Hartright. Laura and I are only half-sisters, but we feel so very close.

She always looks up to me for help, and unfortunately I had nothing to offer in this circumstance but sympathy and reassuring words. I was of course extremely relieved at Sir Percival’s departure, however deep down I was worried as to what would happen next. I could tell that the worst wasn’t over, and had an awful feeling more desperate acts of evil were to come. A few days passed after Glyde’s departure and Laura made a visit to the old boathouse in which I had found the wounded dog. I was taken aback after finding out that my dear sister had herself met with Anne Catherick there.

On returning, Laura explained to me all that had happened. Miss Catherick had revealed to her that it in fact it was she who had written the alarming warning letter and that it was also she who had warned my sister of the evil baronet. I was also intrigued to discover that Miss Catherick revealed she knew a terrible secret about Sir Percival. An horrific, appalling and disastrous secret that she would subsequently disclose. Unfortunately, Laura explained that before she could learn of this awful secret from Miss Catherick, she was startled by something sudden, and fled as soon as she could.

Laura told of how afraid Miss Catherick was, and how her face had the word ‘fear’ written all over it. That is the precise phrase she used. I apologise that in this letter I could not impart any good news. I urge you to make of this information what you will, Mr Hartright. I hope you realise why I felt the need to make this communication, and I hope it doesn’t detract from your trip away; I thought it best to inform you before your return and warn you of all that has happened before you find out from a second hand source upon your return.

I regret to inform you that this isn’t all of the bad occurrences which have arisen. More unimaginable dealings have taken place, but that, my good friend, is for another letter. I have already burdened you considerably. I pray that the situation currently upon us can somehow be resolved in the foreseeable future, and I hope this letter finds you well and that your trip to America has been fruitful and enlightening. I look forward to your return. Yours faithfully, Marian Halcombe.