Gothic Landscapes and Seascapes: Dark Regions in Wilkie Collins’s The Dead Secret



Wilkie Collins's The Dead Secret, arguably one of his most critically neglected novels, exercises the same concerns with ancestry, inheritance, and history as developed in Collins's later works, projected upon a Cornish landscape. In exploring the way Collins uses Cornwall (a location he had already toyed with in Basil and Rambles Beyond Railways), representations of the Cornish, and specifically Cornish seascapes, I propose that Collins is employing Cornwall as an ideal playground in which to experiment with his reworkings of Gothic tropes and motifs. Indeed, Collins's Cornwall provides a means of understanding debates surrounding regional identities and a lens through which to comprehend the Cornish quest to reclaim a notion of Celtic identity in the late nineteenth century. Collins’s use of seascapes, ruins, transgression, and deadly secrets not only reimagines Gothic tropes in a Victorian context, but also uses them to express anxieties regarding disintegration of self, society, and borders in the period.


  • Year: 2016
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 21-30
  • DOI: 10.18573/j.2016.10106
  • Published on 27 Jan 2017