As a final blog post, I wanted to reflect on the projects put together by my classmates to think about some of the major themes we have learned in this course. One central theme that spanned almost every project was the problems of gender in the nineteenth century. From my project where Laura finally gets a voice to Grace’s high school movie in which Laura and Marian lecture Walter about his inappropriate stare, it seems we’ve all picked up on the injustices faced by women in the nineteenth century. I suppose The Woman in White was enough to make that extremely clear, considering all of the drama surrounding Laura’s inheritance that was dictated by the men in her life when it rightfully belonged to her. Riley also chose to focus on the men in the story and not give a voice to the women in her scrapbook in order to highlight the dominant voice that men had in the nineteenth century. Quincie’s project featured Marian as a biracial lesbian character, which took the gender exploration far beyond just the rights of women.
Class was another theme explored in the projects, in terms of its sometimes rigid structure. Brian’s chutes and ladders game highlights the ways in which class can limit one to never being able to rise above a certain level, such as Walter Hartright, without some kind of Deus Ex Machina (i.e., a crazy plot to fake someone’s death and steal their inheritance, plus death by fire). In my modern day adaptation, Walter is still lower class than the Fairlies, being that he is a physical trainer and a working man, while the Fairlies are independently wealthy and do not have to work. In modern times, Laura could still choose to marry someone like Walter, but it is far more likely that she would choose someone with wealth and influence like Percival Glyde.
The themes of social reform that were addressed in the class presentations were for the most part themes that carry across from Dickens’s own time. Class mobility and women’s rights are still issues today in many ways, and Patrick pointed out how debtor’s prisons are making a resurgence in modern times. My project was probably the most far removed from Dickens’s day in that it focuses on social media and advanced technologies that were not even thought of in the nineteenth century. However, themes of class and gender still figure in greatly despite the modern mode of representation.