Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jess: The Modern Marian?

One would think I am trying to win the prize for Primeval nerdiness.

The sad part about my post today is that probably even less people know about The Woman in White than they do about Wuthering Heights (whose character Cathy I compared to Helen previously). This is also sad because The Woman in White (by Wilkie Collins) is quite a good story. To compensate for any lack of knowledge about this novel, here is what you need to know about Marian. She is the half-sister to Laura, whom you might say is the heroine of the novel. Laura goes through some Gothic-ish danger because people want her money, and Marian helps to save her and uncover the mystery of the novel. Marian's help comes in the form of Walter Hartright, the sisters' former drawing teacher who also eventually marries Laura.

So Marian is an intellectual character in a Victorian novel. She is very much the antithesis of Laura, who is pretty and fairly flat of a character. Marian is more developed, but she is also described (very starkly) as ugly. You see how it works?

The reason I compare Primeval's Jess to Marian is obviously for physical appearance. It's because Jess is also intellectual; she knows computers backwards and forwards and is very good at her job as team coordinator. Sometimes it seems like she's team leader, not just coordinator: she organizes so much of what goes on. So she gets things done in just as hands-on a way as Marian does, letting nothing stop her and never being intimidated by other people.

The difference is that Jess is not a Victorian character. The Woman in White addresses a lot of women's issues, and I think the contrast between Marian's ugly/intellectual self and Laura's pretty/one-dimensional self is intentional as a part of this. But Jess is able to take both sides of Marian and Laura. She is smart and bold, but she is also pretty and very girly (and wears wonderful outfits). In a sense, Jess is what Marian and Laura (particularly Marian) are not allowed to be in Victorian society.

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