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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  
Author Anne Brontë (as "Acton Bell")
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Thomas Cautley Newby
Publication date June 1848
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 3 vols., 492, ?, ?
ISBN NA

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by English author Anne Brontë, published in 1848. It is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife.

Contents

Plot summary

The novel is divided into three volumes. In the first part, narrated by prosperous farmer Gilbert Markham, a mysterious widow, Mrs. Helen Graham arrives at Wildfell Hall, a nearby old mansion. A source of curiosity for the small community, the reticent Helen and her young son Arthur are slowly drawn into the social circles of the village. Initially, Gilbert Markham casually courts Eliza Millward, despite his mother's belief that he can do better. His interest in Eliza wanes as he comes to know Mrs. Graham. In retribution, Eliza spreads (and perhaps originates) scandalous rumours about Helen.

With gossip flying, Gilbert is led to believe that his friend, Mr. Lawrence is courting Mrs. Graham. At a chance meeting in a road, a jealous Gilbert strikes (with a whip) the mounted Lawrence, who falls from his horse. Unaware of this, Helen refuses to marry Gilbert, but gives him her diaries when he accuses her of loving Lawrence.

Part two is taken from Helen's diaries and describes her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon. The handsome, witty Huntingdon is also spoilt, selfish, and self-indulgent. Helen marries him blinded by love and resolves to reform Arthur with gentle persuasion and good example. Upon the birth of their child, Huntington becomes increasingly jealous of their son (also Arthur) and his claims on Helen's attentions and affections.

Huntingdon's pack of dissolute friends frequently engage in drunken revels at the family's home, Grassdale, oppressing those of finer character. Both men and women are portrayed as degraded, with Lady Annabella Lowborough shown to be an unfaithful spouse to her melancholy but devoted husband.

Walter Hargrave, the brother of Helen's friend Milicent Hargrave, vies for Helen's affections. While not as wild as his peers, Walter is an unwelcome admirer: Helen senses his predatory nature, something revealed when they play chess. Walter tells Helen of Arthur's affair with Lady Lowborough. When his pack of friends depart, Arthur pines openly for his paramour and derides his wife.

Arthur's corruption of their son — encouraging him to drink and swear at his tender age — is the last straw for Helen. She plans to flee to save her son, but her husband learns of her plans from her journal, and burns her artist's tools (by which she had hoped to support herself). Eventually, with help from her brother, Mr. Lawrence, Helen finds a secret refuge at Wildfell Hall.

Part Three begins after the reading of the diaries when Helen bids Gilbert to leave her because she is not free to marry. He complies and soon learns that she returned to Grassdale upon learning that Arthur is gravely ill. Helen's ministrations are in vain. Huntingdon's death is painful, fraught with terror at what awaits him. Helen cannot comfort him, for he rejects responsibility for his actions and wishes instead for her to come with him, to plead for his salvation.

A year passes. Gilbert pursues a rumour of Helen's impending wedding, only to find that Mr. Lawrence (with whom he has reconciled) is marrying Helen's friend, Esther Hargrave. He goes to Grassdale, and discovers that Helen is now wealthy and lives at her estate in Staningley. He travels there, but is plagued by worries that she is now far above his station. He hesitates at the entry-gate. By chance, he encounters Helen, her aunt, and young Arthur. The two lovers reconcile and marry.

Analysis

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall challenged the prevailing morals of the Victorian era. Especially shocking was Helen's slamming of her bedroom door in the face of her husband after continuing abuse, thereby overturning the sexual politics for the time. One critic went so far as to pronounce it "utterly unfit to be put into the hands of girls", though another cited it as "the most entertaining novel we have read in a month past." It is considered to be one of the first feminist novels. The main character, Helen, is spirited and forthright, unafraid to speak to the men in her life with frankness. Anne Brontë portrays this as desirable, compared to the meekness of Milicent, who is trampled and ignored by her unrepentant husband.

Vice is not unique to the men, however; Lady Lowborough's adultery has a particularly devastating effect on her husband, and the malice of Eliza Millward is poisonous to the entire community. The eternal struggle between good and evil is emphasised by heavy use of Biblical references: sinners who repent and listen to reason are brought within the fold, while those who remain stubborn tend to meet violent or miserable ends.

The novel also seems to be Anne's response to those of her sisters.[citation needed] Arthur Huntingdon bears many similarities to Mr. Rochester in her sister Charlotte's Jane Eyre . Also, the preponderance of "H" names (Halford, Helen, Huntingdon, Hattersley, and Hargrave) recalls Emily's Wuthering Heights, as well as the estate itself — Wildfell Hall and Wuthering Heights.

Adaptations

The novel was adapted into two television films, both of which were made by the BBC. The 1968 version starred Janet Munro, while Tara Fitzgerald, Toby Stephens, Rupert Graves and James Purefoy starred in the 1996 version.

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
by Anne Brontë
'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' is the second and final novel by English author Anne Brontë, published in 1848. It is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife. The novel also seems to be Anne's response to the novels of her sisters. Arthur Huntingdon bears many similarities to Mr. Rochester in her sister Charlotte's 'Jane Eyre'. Also, the preponderous of "H" names (Halford, Helen, Huntingdon, Hattersley, and Hargrave) recalls Emily Brontë's 'Wuthering Heights', as well as the estate itself - Wildfell Hall and Wuthering Heights.
— Excerpted from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.
Information about this edition

Simple English

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  
File:TheTenantOfWildfellHall.gif
Title-page of the first edition, 1848
Author Anne Brontë (as "Acton Bell")
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Thomas Cautley Newby
Make date June 1848
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 3 vols., 492, ?, ?
ISBN 978-0-19-920755-8

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by English author Anne Brontë, published in 1848. Story framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law. He writes about evets leading to his meeting his wife.

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:



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