Serialised Victorian novel written by Wilkie Collins. Run from 1859 to 1860.Walter Hartright, a young drawing master from Victorian London, gets a job teaching art to two young women, half-sisters Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie, at Limmeridge house in Cumberland. He soon is tangled in a web of dastardly deeds involving an Arranged Marriage and a Mysterious Waif in the form of escaped mental patient Anne Catherick.The book is often considered the first Victorian sensation novel, and has been adapted into a play, several films and an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
Laura is an adorable lady and Walter and Marian love her so much, and she them. Then her soon-to-be husband appears, and let the torturing of readers begin. She suffers terribly in her unhappy marriage, and she's a part of very evil scheme.
It's also implied that this happened to Anne. She was probably as pretty as Laura, but her mother neglected her. We meet her when she's broken already, though she does have a kind friend who takes care of her.
Butterface: Marian. Her gorgeous and perfect body is described in great detailed while she stands at the window. Then she turns around and... but her face. Walter didn't expect her to be ugly.
When he goes to share what he's learned with Fosco, he takes precautions so that, when he's asked "Have You Told Anyone Else?", he can assure Fosco that he has, and killing him would therefore not solve anything.
He happily makes a deal with Fosco that will get him what he wants but allow the latter to escape from the law scot-free because Walter assumes karma will punish him anyway.
Identical Stranger: Anne and Laura, apparently ( Walter discovers that Anne was Laura's half-sister.).
The Ophelia: Anne and Laura. Though their mental health problems are described as rather troubling but Mr Hartright takes great pleasure in taking care of Laura and making her better. Anne's weak and confused mind do not make her attractive at all.
Polyamory: Hinted at with Walter, Laura, and Marian at the end.
The Reveal: The truth of Professor Pesca is one of many. This is, after all, a serialized sensation novel.
Sexless Marriage: Fortunately for Laura, implied for her and her husband; Sir Percival assures Fosco that there's no chance of Laura producing heirs.
Smart People Play Chess: Marian is good at it. When she plays with Count Fosco, she discovers very quickly that her let her win on purpose. She immediately tells him what the hell, he apologizes and utterly destroys her in their next game.
Worthy Opponent: Marian Halcombe to Count Fosco. Cue rambling about how intelligent/courageous/perfect she is and how they could rule together under different circumstances (if he wasn't married, and he wasn't trying to get her sister's fortune, for starters). But one has to wonder what part of this comes from pure, candid, objective esteem, independent of the fact that the old goat is in love with her. At least in two occasions when she could have been owned by him, he just lets her off.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Marian. Good GOD, Marian. In the book, she's described as being ugly and masculine. In the musical, she was played by Ruthie Henshall, a very attractive actress. The tradeoff, however, is that she's still considered undesirable, except this time it's due to being a Christmas Cake in her late thirties rather than young and ugly.