‘Wicked Little Letters’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Was Rose Proven Innocent?

Wicked Little Letters is a film that blends social commentary with engaging and fun-loving elements. The story is set in the 1920s, a period when women faced systemic oppression both in their households and in wider society. In a time when women were often oppressed and looked down upon, the movie sheds light on the reality of their struggles for equality. Here we meet Edith Swan, a Christian woman who starts receiving abusive letters one after the other and eventually reports them to the police. Suspicions fall on a woman named Rose Gooding, who defies societal norms by being fearless and independent. You see, she used to drink and swear a lot, so naturally, it makes her an easy target for blame. However, as the investigation progresses, it becomes evident that Rose is not the culprit. So women come together to help Gladys Moss, the first woman police officer in Littlehampton, solve the case because, at that time, people thought that having a woman as a cop was not unlike seeing a flying pig. So, who actually wrote the letters? Let’s find out!


Spoilers Ahead

Why Did Edith Complain About Rose? 

Right from the start, you could tell Edith was a devout Christian woman who deeply respected her parents. She was unmarried, as her father never allowed her to wed, and she went by his wishes faithfully. Edith immersed herself in Christian hymns, attending church regularly. So, you can imagine the shock her family felt when she began receiving vulgar, insulting letters. They were concerned it might be a hate crime, targeting their innocent and pure Edith. They had to report it to the police, suspecting only one person in their community: Rose Gooding. You see, Rose was the very opposite of Edith. She hailed from Ireland, arriving in Littlehampton after her husband’s death in the war. Living with a man named Bill, Rose had a history of relationships with other men.


Edith thought of Rose as an expert at luring men with her charm. Rose was outspoken, humorous, and unafraid to break societal norms. She drank, cursed, and danced—everything Edith thought an improper woman would do. Even the police viewed her behavior as unchristian and unladylike. One incident in particular highlighted Rose’s audacity. During Edith’s father’s birthday celebration, when Edith wanted a moment of fun with her female friends, her father ordered her to serve him cake. Rose, however, boldly challenged this, stating that he was not a child and could serve himself. Though Edith pretended to be upset, she secretly admired Rose’s courage. However, things took a darker turn the next day when child protection services arrived to take Rose’s daughter, Nancy. Edith’s father likely called them as revenge for his embarrassment the previous night. To be humiliated by a woman in a room full of men! What a shame! The timing was suspicious; right after that incident, Edith started receiving those abusive letters. Thus, it seemed clear: Rose was the one behind the letters. She had motive and opportunity, and her actions aligned perfectly with the timeline of events. Despite her protests of innocence, all fingers pointed at her, and Rose was charged and sentenced to two and a half months in Portsmouth prison for harassing a “pretty Christian woman.” 

Who Wrote The Letters? 

You could see that Edith was loving all the attention she was receiving. Her name was all over the newspapers due to the poison pen letters. Some portrayed her as a sweet and innocent spinster, while others humiliated her. Regardless, it was her moment, and she was loving every minute of the spotlight. However, behind the scenes, Edith lived in a home oppressed by her father.  Her father held her back, making her feel bad for wanting to have fun, because that’s not what a nice woman would do. He stopped her from marrying, wanting to keep control over her, and made her do all the house chores. When her pictures were in the papers, he belittled her and said bad men would take advantage of them. You can imagine how oppressive this environment felt for Edith. So, who wrote the letters? Well, you guessed it! Edith wrote them to herself. You see, she didn’t know how to stand up to her father. She wasn’t allowed to be herself in her own home, let alone in society. She had had enough, and her only way to rebel, stand against it all, and have a bit of fun was by writing those letters. She blamed Rose because she was secretly jealous of her. Edith envied how Rose could just be herself unapologetically, while she always had to walk on eggshells and be careful not to upset anyone.


Was Rose Proven Innocent? 

You see, right from the beginning, police constable Gladys Moss had a hunch that Rose was innocent. The handwriting in those letters just didn’t match Rose’s at all. So, she took help from Mabel and Ann, two friends from Edith’s Christian women’s group. These women were rebellious souls who’d had enough of men’s oppression. They banded together because they knew men wouldn’t help them out. The other police officers criticized Gladys, saying her only job was to care for the emotional well-being of the local women; other than that, she served no purpose. They even threatened to suspend her if she tried to prove Rose’s innocence behind their backs. So Gladys had to work secretly with her friends. Meanwhile, more letters started circulating, not just targeting Edith but women all over Littlehampton. It became a national embarrassment, especially as the date of the trial approached. Then something really sad happened: Edith’s mom had a heart attack and passed away when she saw one of the letters because she felt so embarrassed.

When Gladys visited Edith’s house to fill out paperwork, she noticed something odd. The way Edith wrote her “G” was actually similar to the handwriting in the letters. Gladys realized Edith was the culprit all along and knew she had to prove it in court. They began keeping an eye on Edith, following her everywhere. When she went to mail her letters, they caught her in the act but stayed quiet. On the day of the trial, Rose knew who was behind it all and believed she’d be proven innocent. Instead, the court labeled her a serial liar, attacking her for never having a husband and having her daughter out of wedlock. They painted her as a fallen woman, a disgrace to society. 


But as they say, truth never dies. So, in the end, Edith was proven guilty after all. How? Well, Gladys and the other women from the group made invisible ink to trace Edith’s name on the stamps of the letters. When Edith went to mail the last letter in the mailbox, Gladys’ niece was hiding inside and showed the evidence to the police. They caught Edith in the act, right in front of everyone. Gladys even arrested her, putting her in handcuffs. It was such a powerful moment for Gladys as a woman police officer in that time of society! But, you see, Edith didn’t feel guilty at all! Sure, she felt bad that because of her, Rose had gone through hell, but now she preferred being in jail to being at home under her father’s constant domination and scrutiny. She didn’t have to pretend anymore. Now that everyone knew she wasn’t the pure Christian woman they thought she was, for the first time in her life, she could just be herself. She finally felt free!

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Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

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