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Note Editions of The Tenant that start with You must go back with me are incomplete Actual opening line of the novel is To J Halford Es Dear Halford when we were together lastThis is the story of a woman's struggle for independence Helen Graham has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage Exiled to the desolate moorland mansion she adopts an assumed name and earns her living as a painter


10 thoughts on “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

  1. says:

    Carol said I must list my all time favorite books What a challenge this is I have read everything those Bronte girls wrote even their childhood poetry and I love all of it But Anne will take the showing on my list for her bravery Of course Charlotte was the most prolific and Emily the true brainiac but Anne has my complete respect for being a true literary pioneer she was the first woman to write of a wife leaving her abusive husband and then goes on to lead a happy successful life Up to this point any woman who left her husband met some type of horrific demise At one point in the novel she slams the door on her husband and feminists claim it was the door slam heard around the world Critics were and still are harsh toward Anne because of the structure of the novel she hides somewhat behind the devices of letters and diaries they claim and I agree that her tale would have been powerful had she faced her reader without these BUT let's give Anne a big break she did a truly brave and unprecedented move here so if she hid a bit behind a lengthy dairy entry I will forgive her and relish in the power this tale gives women We owe Anne uite a bit so read this great story with a forgiving heart and when you finish thank her because she is one of our noble literary grandmothers


  2. says:

    An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion Wildfell Hall abandoned for many years by the wealthy family that owned it as uninhabitable surrounded by the bleak moorlands in a remote uiet village in the northern English countryside during the early part of the 19th century no one knew she was coming the locals are very curious who is she ? What is she doing calling herself MrsGraham a widow with a lively five year old boy Arthur The villagers distrust outsiders the gloomy dismal cold Wildfell Hall is not fit to live only a couple of rooms are fixed and just loyal old servant Rachel to assist there is a mystery to be solved The son of a late gentleman farmer Gilbert Markham a neighbor is smitten by Helen Graham her beauty poise intelligence good manners and still young about 25 around the same age as he Going to see MrsGraham often any excuse will do being a friendly good neighbor bringing a book giving her son a puppy finally declaring his undying love but Helen rejects him not possible any future between the couple some enigma from the past that remains unexplained and Gilbert shouldn't come any it's upsetting her feelings The unusually independent woman rare in those days makes a modest living painting and selling beautiful vividly colored landscapes But scandalous rumors drench the area destroying her reputation that MrsGraham was never married and her landlord Frederick Lawrence a freuent visitor is the spitting image of her son Arthur even the local amiable vicar stays away from the lady The jealous confused hot tempered Gilbert neglects his family a loving mother younger brother rather lazy the witty Fergus pretty sweet sister Rose and especially the farm MrMarkham becomes a peeping Tom hiding in the bushes and behind trees outside Wildfell Hall spying on MrsGraham witnessing the affections of Mr Lawrence and Helen with his own eyes towards each other so the rumors are valid The out of control Gilbert seething with tremendous anger deep jealousy and extreme hate attacks his friend Mr Lawrence unprovoked with a heavy whip on horseback striking his head causing much blood to spill falling down from his animal on a muddy wet lonely road the badly injured Frederick is stunned why? The rains pour over the prone body the somewhat remorseful moody MrMarkham tries to help but soon leaves his victim to fend for himself and rides awayLater MrsGraham gives Gilbert her secret diary to read a troubled past she has experienced full of unbelievable torment suffering and abuse her little son in the middle not comprehending any of it thank God but she must escape this environment or the child will also be marked for life and the mother can not let this happenA superior work this indictment of the lack of freedom which women in England endured during that harsh era what they went through so much mistreatment little rights Anne Bronte shows the world that she was as talented a writer as her big sisters


  3. says:

    Reformed rakes make the best husbands This is the maxim that governs the universe of historical romance novels That a puerile assumption regarding dissolute cads turning into paragons of puritanical goodness on being administered the vital dosage of a virgin's 'love' fuels women's fantasies in this day and age depresses me to no end In a sense this is the dialectical opposite of Kerouac's On the Road in that it systematically demystifies a contrived notion of masculine 'coolness' the bastard child of a vile solipsism and unchecked aggression that the latter romanticized Women writers of today particularly those who are laughing all the way to the bank by mass producing this unforgivable blather wake the hell up The youngest Brontë sister saw the evil the cult of machismo breeds in young male children and portrayed it without inhibitions without holding anything back 150 years ago What are you still waiting for? It is all very well to talk about noble resistance and trials of virtue; but for fifty or five hundred men that have yielded to temptation show me one that has had virtue to resist And why should I take it for granted that my son will be one in a thousand? and not rather prepare for the worst and suppose he will be like this like the rest of mankind unless I take care to prevent it? Reading this nearly made me experience that same nightmare that is encapsulated in Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Of course the horrors that Atwood delineated with an unsettling composure make you break out in gooseflesh while Helen's traumatic experiences are merely unpleasant But there's the same sick feeling of being held against one's will the same revulsion that threatens to overshadow all other emotions A blow by blow account of an abusive marriage and a woman being condemned to tolerating a melee hosted by drunken wife and child abusing reprobates day after infuriating day year after agonizing year will do that to you Especially when this picture of oppression is completed by the inexorable professions of love from overenthused admirers who do not take the matter of consent all that seriously Does that seem harrowing enough? Marriage may change your circumstances for the better but in my private opinion it is far likely to produce a contrary result That I am choosing to hold back a star is because Anne's writing lacks Emily's verve and Charlotte's intellectual rigour and that certain something which makes one wish to prolong the act of reading a book Her characterization is a bit wobbly as Helen is inconsistent throughout the length of the novel she is stringently insular against Gilbert's growing affection for her and suddenly she isn't she secures an escape route from her husband's den of debauchery and suddenly returns to that same hell when he is dying in an act of Christian compassion Besides the repeated attempts at making doctrinal virtue a crutch on which to balance her self assertion wearied me Yes yes this was the Victorian era I understandThe narrative is a bit lacking in an overall structural integrity This is particularly evident in the presence of certain generic plot devices and cliches that Anne employs to effect a reconciliation between Gilbert and Helen I would have been most happy if Gilbert had just been a mildly nosy townsman narrating the events because as a character he may not have been there at all PS Mary A Ward's introduction mentions how Branwell's alcoholism and reckless behaviour inspired Emily and Anne Brontë to recreate the same kind of violence in their fiction Heathcliff and Huntingdon were the results


  4. says:

    Bravissima BrontëThere is a straight logical line leading from the brilliant fiction of Anne Brontë written in 1847 to Margaret Atwood's eually persuasive The Handmaid's Tale of our own era Elouent erudite witty women describe what makes patriarchal Christian society brutally unjust to any woman of feeling and intelligence and not just in extreme cases but in its core idea of women's roles and choicelessness their suppressed individual right to self defined sexuality and their denied financial and judicial independenceIt is the eternal story of beautiful smart Helen She is 18 years old and she feels attracted to a typical bad guy Arthur Huntingdon In a modern liberal democratic and eual society she will have an affair with him during her teenage years then she will get over the butterflies leave him and embark on another adventure during her years of professional emancipation and training possibly with less disgusting Mr Hargrave When she realises that he isn't her type either she will break up again and eventually find her Mr Markham marry him and have children while pursuing her professional career Possibly the marriage will work out and they will live through ups and downs and stay together Or they might divorce and go their separate ways again on eual termsBut this is not the kind of society Helen is born into She is brainwashed with a genuine fear of Hell and a wish to earn her place in Heaven by suffering humiliation and degradation in this life rather than going against the inconsistent Church teachings which even believers fail to explain in the course of the narrative thus creating involuntarily comical effects by discussing the sadness they feel that they won't be loving each other in the same read physical sexual way if they are united in Heaven rather than on EarthSo Helen cursed with being born into the wrong society has to suffer when she feels her first sexual desire and she decides to marry the scoundrel that crosses her path and then to endure his entitlement and misogynistic attacks for years Both she and her infernal husband consider her his property They are one single entity with him being the head and her being the body to be used and discarded at the head's pleasure Only when she realises he might turn her 5 year old son into an alcoholic she runs away and lives against current law in hiding in a remote place uietly suffering the gossip of the village that shows no mercy for a young woman on her own and produces such a flood of fake news regarding her behaviour that the reader would have fallen into despair had she not been schooled in the post truth era Brontë seems to have lived in a pre truth era which leaves the reader wondering when truth was ever spokenWhen the monstrous husband is deserted by his second lover and fatally ill from an accident the saintly woman returns to do her Christian duty and nurse him until he finally mercifully dies by the hand of the caring author who knows the reader needs poetical justice after such suffering and pain The beautiful Helen is rewarded for her consistency and sexual restraint by marrying the valiant knight who waited for her without assaulting her in the meantime and without calling her ungrateful for daring not to love him as the not so valiant Hargrave did Rejected men are dangerous as we know The highest prize for a devout woman AD 1847 is to marry an apple that is not rotten through and throughHelen undoubtedly is stronger and independent than most women of her times and yet she mirrors the horror of conventional Christianity in combination with patriarchy Being an intelligent passionate woman with natural desires she should have been allowed a choice at every step of her development as it is the reader can only bow to the powerful narrative in the voice of a woman who dared to show the injustice and absurdity of her times writing for both men and women as she stated in the prefaceWild One In the best possible sense


  5. says:

    Some movies are really pretty bad except for one transcendent performance Sophie’s Choice for instance The glittering pallid Meryl Streep is just brilliant whilst the movie itself is a bit of a pain Same with novels The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a game of three halves For the first 100 pages the tiresomely earnest Gilbert Markham tells his tale of how he fell in love with the new lady tenant of the crumbling hall and how she drove him crazy with her intense mysteriousness and this is all very well but the next 200 pages is the diary of the said lady and wowHelen Graham’s own story is fierce and scintillatingly told It’s of how she set her cap for this beautiful bad boy and got all married to him with everyone telling her it was a terrible mistake and how little by little she found herself living a life of horror – no there was never any physical violence but there were all the colours of the rainbow of psychological violence beginning with the speed his originally perfectly sincere love and lust dwindled away and how his excursions to London with his old rakish buddies began to take longer and longer and how the wine and spirits became and noticeable and how eventually he would openly flaunt his affairs in front of her inviting his latest girlfriend as a houseguest for weeks on end and she not allowed to say one word for propriety’s sake All this in excruciating detail with the screws tightened on each succeeding page Another part of the genius of this section is that Helen herself is self revelatingly skewered I hope this was Anne Bronte’s intention Because Helen is a religious obsessive and we have to say really sanctimonious and frankly is than a bit of a pain in the neck She seems to know the Bible backwards and inside out always has a handy uote from the second epistle of Samson to the Troglodytes or the book of Maccabees Victims of patriarchal oppression are not by this sad circumstance necessarily loveable themselves But the awfulness of the 100% possession of the wife and her money and her property by her husband is a terrifying vision You can see arbitrary oppression running through many 19th century novels – Les Miserables Oliver Twist Caleb Williams etc And here it takes place not in the gory dungeons but in the mimsiest most doily infested of drawing rooms For many women marriage was an invisible prison Alas when that part of the narrative closes we are back to Gilbert for the predictable conclusion to the story and here it is the 21st century reader who might find themselves a trifle oppressed by the jawbreaking circumlocutious language and the interminable periphrasing Gilbert uses fifteen ten dollar words just to tell you he walked down a street The central 200 pages of Helen’s diary are a 5 star read But the first and last sections drag this novel down down down With regret I have to say – overall 35 starsAND NOW A SHORT ONE ACT PLAY ENTITLEDTHE BRONTESAURUS It is late September 1848 the drawing room of the Parsonage at Haworth home of the Bronte family The sisters are discussing literature in between bouts of coughing Bramwell lies dead behind the sofaCharlotte Oh come on you totally stole from Jane Eyre admit it Emily Oh shove off See that stain on the ceiling there? That’s Jane Eyre Wuthering Heights now that’s massive 120% original Heathcliff Cathy – boom Already a classicCharlotte Yeah well it’s a pity all the critics think you belong in the loony bin Anne Wait a moment dear sisters whilst I perform a mental calculation Agnes Grey that’s one Tenant of Wildfell Hall that’s two So that’s Anne v Charlotte two one and Anne v Emily er oh Two one again That’s called winning you know Charlotte Oh shut up AnneEmily Yeah shut up Anne Anne How very vulgar but of course no surpriseCharlotte And anyway since we’re on the subject Jane Eyre right she’s a governess right and your Agnes Grey what is she then? Oh wait a governess And which one was published first? Oh ME – that’s who me You ripped me off I’m going to sue your backside Anne Then I’ll see you in court any day soon dear sister I think you’ll find you have no copyright on the word “governess” There’s than one oppressed governess in merry England Just like there’s than one house Are you going to sue us because our characters live in houses? Emily Oh shut up Anne Drone drone drone just like your feeble novels Just because you don’t know when to stop writing They all pause to cough then resume arguing


  6. says:

    Find the full sized image hereBefore we discovered Anne Brontë some of us fancied Heathcliff We wanted to fix him tame him soothe his tortured soul Or maybe if you preferred the mature and experienced man you craved Mr Rochester Perhaps you even draped yourself out of your bedroom window on stormy nights convinced that someone somewhere was calling to youNot any It's time to ditch those Byronic heroes everyone No ' mad bad and dangerous to know'; only sober honest men brimming with common sense from now onWow This woman was such a literary pioneer Who else can you name that effortlessly tackles marital abuse marital rape alcoholism drug addiction infant custody and female self determination all in one book? Anne Brontë the feminist writer we need but truly don't deserveThis merits a bad ass Brontë strut The Tenant of Wildfell Hall certainly reflects the religious orthodoxy of the time The emphasis on repentance may feel slightly archaic and outdated to the modern audience reading from a secular society but I don't think anyone can deny that it is superbly charged throughout with Anne's beautiful belief in universal salvation a uality that may very well never genuinely grace our pages again Nevertheless her boldness brutal honesty and elouence in proclaiming euality is timeless This is a stunning completely unflinching examination of marriage and its abuse The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is said to be the first sustained feminist novel Winifred Gérin even dubbed it the first ' manifesto for Women’s Lib' Now that’s a high honour and the novel is entirely deserving of it It caused absolute scandal when it was first published in 1847 selling out in just 6 weeks yep that's faster than both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights which makes Anne the most successful of the sisters during their lifetimes So why the scandal? Well Anne depicts a woman who1 Leaves her womanizing alcoholic and abusive husband2 to make her own independent living 3 and takes her son with herLet’s clarify that in context in 1847 this wasn't just unusual; it was illegal Women were wholly subject to the control of their husband They could not own property or seek a divorce They didn't even have true possession of their childrenI would say 'fun fact' but it really really isn't marital rape was actually completely legal util 1991 So just imagine how shocking it was to contemporary readers when Helen the at times sanctimonious heroine refuses to have sex with her husband one drunken night locking herself away in her bedroom If this was effectively denying conjugal rights as recently as 1990 you can imagine how scandalous this was in 1847 Mary Sinclair commented in 1913 how the slamming of Helen Huntington’s bedroom door against her husband reverberated through Victorian England And I guess she must have slammed that door pretty hard because Charlotte Brontë refused to sanction further editions of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne’s death in 1849 In fact it wasn't printed again officially until 1859 and that fly by night edition was butchered; it was ruthlessly edited to suish the intended three volume novel into just one Now it's debatable as to whether Charlotte did this as a bit of bitchy revenge out of jealousy for Anne's success or if she was just terrified of public opprobrium but either way it sucked that she did it at all Anne however was not fussed about the scandal she'd caused She wanted to prove a point this is a campaigning novel In the scalding preface to the second edition in which she defended herself she said “ I wished to tell the truth; for truth always conveys its own moral”Amen The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was written in deliberate protest against the social conventions of the time Anne wrote from personal experience; witnessing her brother Branwell deteriorate into alcoholism and drug addiction having had a disastrous affair with the wife of the employer he shared with Anne She had him secured the position as a personal tutor herself already being the family's governess As a result she felt responsible for Branwell’s devolution Essentially she wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as a warning she wanted to save others from the same fate cautioning young men about the conseuences of excess and enlightening young women of the perils of bad menI think in many ways I respected this novel than I enjoyed it Rather than being plot driven it's very much introspective The romance is a lukewarm at best and there's not the slightest whiff of anything supernatural Maybe that’s part of the reason why Anne’s work isn't as well remembered as Emily’s or Charlotte’s that and crucially she refused to glamorize an oppressive man Arthur Huntington is not a romanticized brooding Byronic hero he’s an arsehole And Anne tells us that blatantly well words to that effect anyway living with a self destructive husband is not thrilling or exciting not even in theoryAnne Brontë is possibly the most underestimated voice in English literature George Moore endowed her with the less than flattering epithet of a ‘ literary Cinderella’ always in the shadow of her two sisters But she is not in their shadow because of an inferior intellect as so many critics have claimed And prowess is not necessarily measured by endurance If only she had lived longer she would've been able to defend her work from both the hostile critics and she'd already done this once and importantly from her sister Charlotte Anyone poised to attack me with the specious argument that Anne was also the least spirited of the sisters should seriously reevaluate that claim this remorseless attack of social convention completely and utterly belies that image of docile pensive AnneThe result of Charlotte's interference? Anne's not on the school curriculum You probably won’t be forced to read her stuff for an exam even at university level But I strongly urge you to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall of your own volition An incredible novel subversive compelling refreshing and sadly relevant


  7. says:

    What a surprisingly good read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall wasI think when you read a Classic like this you have to immerse yourself in the time when it was written and this one goes back to the mid 1840s a time when the pace of life was slower and when there was no Television or social media and a time when snail mail and word of mouth were the facebook and twitter of the time I think if you have the ability to do this you would love and enjoy this novel as I am sure this was a rocking good read for any reader back in 1848The novel is divided into three volumes and begins with the arrival of the beautiful and mysterious Mrs Graham in a sleepy country neighborhood Mrs Graham causes uite a stir as she gives the country folk something new to talk and gossip about but the talk soon turns to nasty rumors about her and her son The book's setting is the English country side with its isolated sprawling manors rugged good looking gentlemen and cackle of young women on the hunt for well to do husbandsThe story is edgy and fresh for its time with likable and dislikable characters and a plot that was suprisingly engrossing The writting is descriptive but very readable and while I read this one at a slower pace than normal I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with this classic So if you enjoy classic literature but have been putting this one off I advise putting it on your winter reading list cosy up by the fire and take yourself back in time to get the best out of this book


  8. says:

    45 starsMove over Charlotte Make room for my new favorite BrontëIt is inevitable for me to compare Anne Brontë with her sisters and Helen Graham with Jane Eyre particularly but I shall momentarily do so anyway Some said this was better than any Brontë novel published some claimed it deeply overhyped After reading this I shall have to agree with the former claim as I thought this book surpassed to uite an extent the love I had for Jane EyreThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall shook me from the first page when I discovered that rather than the conventional female perspective the narrative opens with a letter penned by a male protagonist Gilbert Markham I am not the biggest fan of framed stories but this one was deeply engaging all the way through Through Gilbert’s letter we then dive into Helen’s diaries and her life which forms the majority of the novelHelen Graham is by far of the strongest female protagonist I have ever had the pleasure of reading about It’s not simply because she has been through an abusive relationship and needs to be pitied but because she bears through a lot of nonsense from her husband with such grace that there were points at which I was infuriated at her calmness She takes everything in strides“my bliss is sobered but not destroyed; my hopes diminished but not departed; my fears increased but not yet throughly confirmed”While this sort of pacifism is clearly harmful to her and her son’s existence in reality I have a difficult time criticizing her for bearing through so much before she finally decided to do what was right In such cases things were most certainly easier said than done So though I was angered by her mild reactions at times I cannot fault her in her decisions because I cannot claim something as definitively right or wrong given that I haven’t been through any sort of similar experience as sheBut generally though how could I not love Anne for shaping a character that is constantly being tested and yet never letting that deteriorate her from her and her son’s happiness In the end I would’ve completely understood Helen if she had given up on everything in life on striving to make peace but in the end she doesn’t let anyone destroy her existence And I just had to sit back and admire that for a moment Her patience was tested by than just one character and multiple times throughout but she always responds in a clear sensible manner Her hushed posture can easily be misconstrued for indifference by readers but I don’t think she is indifferent to anything merely aware of the prejudices against her and cynical of her environment because of itI cannot say whether I really liked or disliked Gilbert Markham but I have to argue that I was somewhat disappointed that we did not get to see a lot of interaction between him and Helen once the story is coming to an end Given all that Helen has gone through by the end of her diaries I expected her to be a bit cautious with her affections Similarly I was also a bit unsatisfied with the ending of Jane Eyre so I suppose it’s something that I will eventually have to get pastAnd lastly of course the controversial aspect of this novel and what makes it so fantastic is Helen’s relationship with her husband Anne Brontë is unflinchingly honest in her depiction of alcoholism and how that leads to an abusive marriage She is ruthless in her assertion of how women are shoved into a corner without a voice abused mistreated and exploited in their silence Brontë writes things which are hard to read about but even harder to comprehend as the realities of women—then and now Despite knowing that all of these things still continue to happen in our society and how much for the sake of propriety we force women into mute beings Brontë still managed to craft some sentences which punched me right in the gutHow could I not love something like this?


  9. says:

    The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is the second novel and my first reading of Anne Bronte The first thought that came to mind while reading this was why it took me this long to discover her? I was familiar with her famous sisters Charlotte and Emily but didn't know of her existence until a very recent timeAnne's writing is far different from that of her sisters Her approach to writing is direct There is no poetic language no implied romanticism and less flowery phrases which is the signature of her famous siblings Instead her writing is direct bold and realistic With her authentic writing style she weaves the tale of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall into a realistic timeless tale The heroine Helen finds her paying a bitter price for her foolish infatuation and ultimate marriage to a rake His alcoholism and debauchery make her life a living hell but she endures it all with her strong sense of duty When his conduct threatens the well being of her son she flees and seeks refuge elsewhere with the noble desire of the welfare of her son at her heart Eventually her good for nothing husband dies and she finally finds love and happiness Although the gist of the story seems like a pretty little love story it is not It is a story of sheer courage and patience to forbear abuse and to hold on when all your hopes are cruelly crushed and despair is threatening to drown you It is a story of a sense of duty towards one’s husband although he is no better than a demon It is a story of a mother who is taking the right course of action to protect her son although that course of action is something which would shock the world for leaving one's husband under any circumstances was against the law and nothing short of a crime and scorn her This is still the story of numerous women all around the world For them Helen is a model of comfort and strength to draw courage from and to stand on their own ground Having an abusive alcoholic brother herself Anne must have been well aware of the conseuences of women in such a household This piece of work is regarded as one of feminist work but my opinion is to the contrary Although there is a touch of feminism in it with emphasis on the wrongs done for women it is not completely so The story talks about both sides; a woman's suffering in the case of abuse and debauchery by her husband and a man's suffering in the event of adultery by his wife And it also points at the villains among men who rather than offering strength comfort and of friendly support to a woman in desperate need of it tries to reap their own fruit of selfish passion The book deals with so many raw emotions the ever changing feelings when faced with different tiers of misery Though the book lacks beautiful language flowery prose and graceful flow as that you would expect in a Bronte this direct narrative is soul searching with every written sentence tugging at your heartstrings It is truly amazing when a book does that I had a delightful reading experience with this book It is a book uite advance in time in which it was written And I'm thankful to Anne Bronte for taking upon a daring venture in writing this wonderful book on a universal and timeless theme


  10. says:

    Helen slams the bedroom door on her abusive husband insisting in a groundbreaking feminist statement that she does not deserve and will not tolerate his treatment also implicitly denying him the entitlement to her body that was presumed under legal covertureMe