1. Why do you think this might be considered an example of "sensation fiction"? Does it differ in any significant way from other Victorian stories you have read?
  2. What is the significance of the title? Which aspects of this story might have been considered novel at the time it appeared (1896)? Which might have seemed traditional or even conservative?
  3. Does the story play on stereotypes? How are these used to propel the plot?
  4. What attitudes, if any, does the narrative hold toward the uses of medicine and science?
  5. What attitudes does this story convey about aging and the elderly? How old was its author at the time of composition? Would many people in Victorian Britain have lived to the age of Lady Ducayne?
  6. What attitutdes toward issues of social class and gentility lie implicit in the plot? Are any of these contradictory?
  7. What effect is created by the emphasis on the heroine's tie to her mother and home? Is she an unconventional "new woman"? What changes in women's lives seem reflected in her life choices?
  8. What do we learn about Bella's character? How are her traits of character useful to the plot?
  9. Which aspects of the story are humorous or ironic? Is the humor directly at the situation, the mode of narration, or both?
  10. Is this story well-written? What is the purpose of the four subdivisions? Of the use of letters? Is the language register complicated?
  11. What symbolic overtones might reside in a plot motif concerning blood transfusion?
  12. What holds the reader's interest as the story progresses? At what point did you suspect that Bella was the victim of secret attach, and if so, could you determine what was happening to her?
  13. What happens in the interview between the young medical student and Lady Ducayne and her doctor? Why does Lady Ducayne agree to desist from hiring more young maidens and give 1000 pounds to Bella? Why does Bella consider that her motives have been charitable?
  14. Is the ending satisfactory and appropriate for this story? What views or emotions of tis audience was it designed to satisfy?
  15. Could this story be published today? If not, what plot elements would need to be altered for the tastes of readers in 2000?