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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, Fiction, Classics

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You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827. My father, as you know, was a sort of gentleman farmer in ------shire; and I, by his express desire, succeeded him in the same quiet occupation, not very willingly, for ambition urged me to higher aims, and self-conceit assured me that, in disregarding its voice, I was burying my talent in the earth, and hiding my light under You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827. My father, as you know, was a sort of gentleman farmer in ------shire; and I, by his express desire, succeeded him in the same quiet occupation, not very willingly, for ambition urged me to higher aims, and self-conceit assured me that, in disregarding its voice, I was burying my talent in the earth, and hiding my light under a bushel. My mother had done her utmost to persuade me that I was capable of great achievements; but my father, who thought ambition was the surest road to ruin, and change but another word for destruction, would listen to no scheme for bettering either my own condition, or that of my fellow mortals. . . .


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You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827. My father, as you know, was a sort of gentleman farmer in ------shire; and I, by his express desire, succeeded him in the same quiet occupation, not very willingly, for ambition urged me to higher aims, and self-conceit assured me that, in disregarding its voice, I was burying my talent in the earth, and hiding my light under You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827. My father, as you know, was a sort of gentleman farmer in ------shire; and I, by his express desire, succeeded him in the same quiet occupation, not very willingly, for ambition urged me to higher aims, and self-conceit assured me that, in disregarding its voice, I was burying my talent in the earth, and hiding my light under a bushel. My mother had done her utmost to persuade me that I was capable of great achievements; but my father, who thought ambition was the surest road to ruin, and change but another word for destruction, would listen to no scheme for bettering either my own condition, or that of my fellow mortals. . . .

30 review for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, Fiction, Classics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    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 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 more 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 quite 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. 4 out of 5

    Samadrita

    "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 ba "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 more 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 understand!) The 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. __ P.S.:-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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion, Wildfell Hall, abandoned for many years, by the wealthy family, who owned it, as uninhabitable, surrounded by the bleak moorlands, in a remote, quiet 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 Mrs.Graham, a widow, with a lively five- year -old boy, Arthur. The villagers distrust outside An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion, Wildfell Hall, abandoned for many years, by the wealthy family, who owned it, as uninhabitable, surrounded by the bleak moorlands, in a remote, quiet 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 Mrs.Graham, 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 Mrs.Graham 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, it is not possible any future between the couple, some enigma, from the past, that remains unexplained and Gilbert shouldn't come anymore, it is 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 Mrs.Graham was never married, that her landlord Frederick Lawrence, a frequent 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. Mr.Markham becomes a peeping Tom, hiding in the bushes, and behind trees, outside Wildfell Hall, spying on Mrs.Graham, 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, Mr.Markham, tries to help, but soon leaves his victim to fend for himself, and rides away...Later Mrs.Graham gives Gilbert her secret diary, to read, it is 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 happen...A superior work, this indictment, of the lack of freedom , that women in England had, 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Bravissima, Brontë! There is a straight logical line leading from the brilliant fiction of Anne Brontë, written in 1847, to Margaret Atwood's equally persuasive The Handmaid's Tale of our own era. Eloquent, 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 choice(lessness) - their suppressed individual right to self-defined sexuality and their de Bravissima, Brontë! There is a straight logical line leading from the brilliant fiction of Anne Brontë, written in 1847, to Margaret Atwood's equally persuasive The Handmaid's Tale of our own era. Eloquent, 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 choice(lessness) - their suppressed individual right to self-defined sexuality and their denied financial and judicial independence. It 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 equal 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 equal terms. But 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 Earth). So 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, quietly 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 spoken!). When 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 through. Helen undoubtedly is stronger and more 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 preface. Wild One! In the best possible sense!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    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 v 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 wow. Helen 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 more and more 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 more than a bit of a pain in the neck. She seems to know the Bible backwards and inside out & always has a handy quote 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 more 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, 3.5 stars. AND NOW, A SHORT ONE ACT PLAY ENTITLED THE 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 sofa. Charlotte : 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 classic. Charlotte : 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 Anne. Emily : Yeah, shut up Anne. Anne : How very vulgar, but of course no surprise. Charlotte : 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 more than one oppressed governess in merry England. Just like there’s more 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. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    What a surprisingly good read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was. I 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 What a surprisingly good read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was. I 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 1848. The 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 quite 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 husbands. The 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    An autobiographical novel that shocked society at the time, it mainly addresses the problems caused by alcoholism and debauchery and the struggle of women to achieve equal rights. Gilbert Markham is deeply attached to Helen, a woman who has a reputation for being immoral and hiding an obscure past, which he always tries to defend even if he does not know the truth. Only with the passage of time Helen gains confidence and ends up revealing her sad past, badly treated and badly loved by an alcohol An autobiographical novel that shocked society at the time, it mainly addresses the problems caused by alcoholism and debauchery and the struggle of women to achieve equal rights. Gilbert Markham is deeply attached to Helen, a woman who has a reputation for being immoral and hiding an obscure past, which he always tries to defend even if he does not know the truth. Only with the passage of time Helen gains confidence and ends up revealing her sad past, badly treated and badly loved by an alcoholic and adulterous husband who enjoyed his religion. Although she struggles for her independence, Helen is still under the power of the husband from whom alone death will free her.

  8. 4 out of 5

    TheSkepticalReader

    [4.5 stars] Move over, Charlotte. Make room for my new favorite Brontë! It 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 quite an extent, the love I had for Jane Eyre. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall shook me from [4.5 stars] Move over, Charlotte. Make room for my new favorite Brontë! It 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 quite an extent, the love I had for Jane Eyre. The 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 novel. Helen 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 she. But 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 more 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 it. I 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 more 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 past. And 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 gut. How could I not love something like this?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    (Find the full sized image here.) Before 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 more mature and experienced man, you craved Mr Rochester. Perhaps you were even hanging out of your bedroom window on stormy nights, convinced that someone somewhere was calling to you. Not any more. It's time to ditch those Byronic heroes, everyone. No more 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', only sober, honest men (Find the full sized image here.) Before 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 more mature and experienced man, you craved Mr Rochester. Perhaps you were even hanging out of your bedroom window on stormy nights, convinced that someone somewhere was calling to you. Not any more. It's time to ditch those Byronic heroes, everyone. No more 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', only sober, honest men brimming with common sense from now on. Wow. 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 deserve. This 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 more 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 quality that may very well never genuinely grace our pages again. Nevertheless, her boldness, brutal honesty and eloquence in proclaiming equality 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 who: 1) Leaves her womanizing, alcoholic and abusive husband 2) to make her own independent living 3) and takes her son with her. Let’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 children. I 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 squish 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 consequences of excess and enlightening young women of the perils of bad men. I think in many ways I respected this novel more 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 more 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 theory. Anne 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 more 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 Anne". The 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    With this book Anne has now become my favorite Brontè! Amazing story! Not only is the writing phenomenal but the issues she addresses were truly progressive for the time: feminism, alcoholism, abuse, etc A must read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    I suspect that many readers today have no idea that these three vicarage-raised spinsters took the English publishing world by storm in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Thundering from reviews were words like coarse, shocking, immoral, depraved . . . and those reviewers thought the authors Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell were men! Tenant hit the shelves with the biggest splash, requiring a second edition, at the front of which Anne added an impassioned forward aimed at critics. She maintains that she is I suspect that many readers today have no idea that these three vicarage-raised spinsters took the English publishing world by storm in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Thundering from reviews were words like coarse, shocking, immoral, depraved . . . and those reviewers thought the authors Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell were men! Tenant hit the shelves with the biggest splash, requiring a second edition, at the front of which Anne added an impassioned forward aimed at critics. She maintains that she is telling the truth as she saw it, and further, in depicting the dregs of drunkenness, she is showing how it really is, now how it would like to be seen. The only thing she finesses is her gender, implying she's a male--this, she knew well, gave her words agency in a way a female's wouldn't--but she ends the foreword with a determined statement that anything a man could write a woman ought to be able to write as well. The story itself is pretty tame by today's standards, so it's difficult to understand its profound impact. One has to know something of Victorian history to understand how Mrs. Huntington daring to shut her bedroom door on her abusive, drunken husband, thus denying him his "rights," was a door-slam heard round the world. That isn't to say that there wasn't question about authorship. Trollope and a few others intuited that a woman wrote the book. I suspect this is because Gilbert Markham is not quite believable as a male, but it could be because Mrs. Huntington, in daring to deny her drunken spouse his rights, and then taking her boy away and leaving him, then getting a happy ending, was nothing a man would write. Just ask Hardy! Anyway, the basic story is fairly well known: a mysterious widow, "Mrs. Grahame," moves to a secluded town, keeping herself to herself, and earning her living by painting. She gets to know the local sprig, Gilbert Markham, whose POV takes up about three fifths of the book (the rest is Helen's journal of her marriage), is at first antagonistic and then slowly attracted to the widow, who becomes enamored of him, then quite properly according to Victorian mores, shuts him down. She gives him her journal, then makes him promise he will leave her alone, since she must abide alone as long as her husband lives. Later she goes back to her husband when news comes he's suffered a horseback riding accident and is in danger of losing his life. She nurses him faithfully, writes about it in detail, and in a roundabout manner that bows to Victorian notions of delicacy, manages to get her happy ending after all. For a modern reader, it's difficult to understand how she could like Gilbert, who is really annoying, veering between preachiness and sudden bouts of sullenness and violence, no doubt in the way Anne observed men behaving. What she couldn't do was get inside their heads. The most convincing scenes are Helen's journal, and the minor female characters stand out from the various males, the servant Rachel being one of the best, and Eliza being one of the worst, in a masterly depiction of Victorian female falsity. The book makes a strong effort to balance the depravity of Huntington and his circle with Christian moralizing, but deep at the heart of this was Anne's own struggle with faith, finally arriving at universal forgiveness: how could God reject the creatures he had made? Huntingdon's end was harrowing for those times, and there is the resonance of truthful observation of the cost of drunkenness in his physical decline, in spite of the faithfully reproduced but absurd medical cant of the time (including a brief reference to phrenology!). Anne was an acute observer of human behavior, the opposite of poor Emily, whose work reads to me like the fiction of someone incapable of social awareness or comprehension. Emily was her own person, and Wuthering Heights reads like id vortex on speed--no wonder it, too, totally bushwhacked the English publishing world of the 1840s. Then came Jane Eyre, whose central figure, so much like Charlotte, depicts the woman determined to make her place in a man's world. I think Tenant is also interesting for Anne's take on the Byronic hero/villain, a type that fascinated the Bronte kids (all four of them, Branwell apparently trying to be one, poor thing), as one can see in the juvenilia that still exists. But unlike Branwell, Charlotte, and Emily, Anne does not find the moody, brutal male at all sexy, except superficially, and that doesn't last. Huntington, in spite of his good looks, is depicted with unflinching accuracy to detail: an abusive, selfish dickbag, who had no value for anyone or anything but his own inclinations, right down to getting his five year old son drunk in order to entertain the company with his swearing and falling down. Those scenes are about the most harrowing in the book, the more because they feel real.

  12. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    I really enjoyed this! Not as much as Jane Eyre (which will always be my favourite Brontë novel), but Anne was so ahead of her time with this. We stan a feminist icon! TW: abusive relationships

  13. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is the second novel and my only read of Anne Bronte. The first thought that came to mind while reading was that why it took me this long to discover her? I was familiar with her more famous sisters Charlotte and Emily but did not know her existence till a recent time! Anne's writing is however far different to that of her sisters, for her approach is more direct. There is no poetic language, no implied romanticism and less flowery phrases, which is the signature ap The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is the second novel and my only read of Anne Bronte. The first thought that came to mind while reading was that why it took me this long to discover her? I was familiar with her more famous sisters Charlotte and Emily but did not know her existence till a recent time! Anne's writing is however far different to that of her sisters, for her approach is more direct. There is no poetic language, no implied romanticism and less flowery phrases, which is the signature approach with her famous siblings. Instead, her approach is direct, bold and realistic. With her authentic writing style, she weaves the tale of the Tenant of Wildfell Hall in to a realistic, timeless tale. The heroine, Helen, finds her paying a bitter price for her infatuation and ultimate marriage to a rake. His alcoholism and debauchery makes her life a living hell, but she endures it all with her strong sense of duty. When his conducts threatens the well-being of her son, she flees and seeks refuge elsewhere with the noble desire of 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 embrace you. It is story of sense of duty towards one’s husband although he is a demon and not a human. 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 law and nothing short of a crime) and scorn her. And I would add 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 their own ground. Having an abusive alcoholic brother herself, Anne must have been well aware of the consequences of women in such a household. This piece of work is regarded as one of feminist works, but my opinion is to the contrary. Although there is a touch of feminism in it with more emphasis towards 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 (Lord Lowborough). And it also talks, how there are villains among men, rather than offering strength of friendly support to a woman in desperate need of it, tries to reap their own fruit of selfish passion. (Mr. Hargrave). The book deals with so much of raw emotions, the ever changing feelings when faced with different tiers of misery. Though the book lacks beautiful language, flowery prose and a graceful flow, as that you would expect in a Bronte, this direct narrative is soul searching with every written sentence questioning your innermost feelings. It is really amazing and alarming when a book does that. I had a delightful reading experience with this book. It is a book quite advance in time in which it was written. And I'm thankful to Anne Bronte for taking up on this daring venture to write this wonderful book on a universal and timeless theme.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    4.5 stars I’ve been meaning to read this for years and have finally got round to it. The plot is pretty straightforward. Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer and the story is set as a series of letters to his friend. A mysterious woman (Helen Graham, an assumed name) and her young son move into Wildfell Hall, a local and somewhat rundown property. She is rather reclusive and begins to be the subject of local gossip. Over time she mixes with some of her neighbour and Gilbert falls in love with he 4.5 stars I’ve been meaning to read this for years and have finally got round to it. The plot is pretty straightforward. Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer and the story is set as a series of letters to his friend. A mysterious woman (Helen Graham, an assumed name) and her young son move into Wildfell Hall, a local and somewhat rundown property. She is rather reclusive and begins to be the subject of local gossip. Over time she mixes with some of her neighbour and Gilbert falls in love with her. Helen does her best not to encourage him, but he befriends her son and praises her art, which is important to her. One evening he sees Helen being friendly towards a neighbour and friend of his. He confronts her and she gives him her diary and tells him to go away and read it. Gilbert also attacks and injures the neighbour. The diary is an account of Helen’s abusive marriage to Arthur Huntingdon and it transpires that the man Gilbert has attacked is Helen’s brother. The diary takes up a large portion of the book and is narrated by Helen. Helen then goes off to nurse her husband who is now very ill because of his dissolute lifestyle. Eventually Arthur does the decent thing and dies. Then the question is do Gilbert and Helen finally get it together. The reader already knows the answer of course. A fairly straightforward plot, executed well. However we are talking Bronte’s here and there is a lot more going on. It has been described as one of the earliest feminist novels. When Helen discovers that Arthur is having an affair she makes a clear decision to end their marital intimacy, saying to him that she would remain a wife in name only. As May Sinclair said the shutting of Helen’s bedroom door against her husband reverberated through Victorian England. Unlike her two sisters Anne Bronte did not glamourize violent and alcoholic men and she was the one that spent the most time nursing Branwell. All of the sisters used Branwell as a model, Anne did not endow Arthur Huntingdon with any glamour, and he is painted plainly as a charming abuser. Anne also has a lot to say about the nature of men, on which subject she is a bit of a pessimist: “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?” The topics the novels covers: abuse, alcoholism, adultery, a woman leaving her husband were all unusual at the time. Helen wants to bring up her own son differently: “My greatest source of uneasiness, in this time of trial, was my son, whom his father and his father’s friends delighted to encourage in all the embryo vices a little child can show, to instruct in all the evil habits he could acquire – in a word, to `make a man of him’ was one of their staple amusements” Although Helen’s attempts to ensure he never drinks by administering alcohol with an emetic hardly seem to be the height of good childcare either! Helen is made to challenge a lot of legal and social conventions relating to marriage, motherhood, living alone and relating to men. There are some irritations as well. Helen is piously religious as well and will insist on going on about it. Gilbert spends most of the time whining and complaining, apart from beating up someone he sees as a rival. There is a complexity to it and articles and texts analysing it are abundant. In the end Helen proposes to Gilbert: “She turned away her glistening eye and crimson cheek, and threw up the window and looked out, whether to calm her own excited feelings or to relieve her embarrassment,—or only to pluck that beautiful half-blown Christmas rose that grew upon the little shrub without, just peeping from the snow, that had hitherto, no doubt, defended it from the frost, and was now melting away in the sun. Pluck it however, she did, and having gently dashed the glittering powder from its leaves, approached it to her lips and said— ‘This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flower, but it has stood through hardships none of them could bear: the cold rain of winter has sufficed to nourish it, and its faint sun to warm it; the bleak winds have not blanched it, or broken its stem, and the keen frost has not blighted it. Look, Gilbert, it is still fresh and blooming as a flower can be, with the cold snow even now on its petals.—Will you have it?’” It’s a great novel with a lot going on and I shouldn’t have left it so long to have read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Poor Helen. Poor Anne. Poor book... Anne is just as much a Brontë as her sisters! Her voice, in many ways, completes the harmony and picks up where the two of them leave off. True, there are no fires, ghosts, or windswept moors. But, as one critic noted, "The slamming of Helen's bedroom door against her husband reverberated throughout Victorian England." I struggle with Victorian literature, because I don't have a clear sense of context. It's difficult for me to separate the author from her time. Poor Helen. Poor Anne. Poor book... Anne is just as much a Brontë as her sisters! Her voice, in many ways, completes the harmony and picks up where the two of them leave off. True, there are no fires, ghosts, or windswept moors. But, as one critic noted, "The slamming of Helen's bedroom door against her husband reverberated throughout Victorian England." I struggle with Victorian literature, because I don't have a clear sense of context. It's difficult for me to separate the author from her time. This book suffers from the usual problems inherent to the period. The story is, by necessity, a little drawn out. There's the contrived excuse for narration, superfluous to contemporary readers, etc. The story, however, is evenly written and the characterization is stunningly deep. I admit, I initially found Helen a little too rigid, too cold, and perhaps emotionally dependent on her son. I came to understand her and her choices. (Yes, a pious...Victorian...mother was somehow made relatable to me!) Helen is not especially worldly. She's not especially brazen. Yet there's courage in that quiet demeanor. There's a still, small voice that refuses to waver. It's true, her beliefs aren't my beliefs. But I admire her fortitude. I'm touched by her steadfast devotion. She stood firm in her own convictions, even as her swaggering husband laughed at them. --In addition to being a book about feminism and piety, this is one of the better books about alcoholism. Helen was warned about Arthur yet married him anyway. She did the best she could. She tried with all her heart. Sometimes that's all you can do. To paraphrase from another book, If I knew then what I know now...it wouldn't matter a damn darn. (Sorry, Ms. Brontë). "He is very fond of me - almost too fond. I could do with less caressing and more rationality: I should like to be less a pet and more a friend, if I might choose - but I won't complain of that: I am only afraid his affection loses in depth where it gains in ardour. I sometimes liken it to a fire of dry twigs and branches compared with one of solid coal, - very bright and hot, but if it should burn itself out and leave nothing but ashes behind, what shall I do? But it won't - it shan't, I am determined..." Sadly, I can relate.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    The question "Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw[/Linton/whatever]?" has always annoyed me. I couldn't stand Wuthering Heights, accomplished though it was, and I think lots of people tend to assume I must be something of a Jane Eyre devotee: I'm not. I'm really not. The next time someone asks me which I prefer, I shall tell them: Helen Huntingdon. Emphatically, enthusiastically, and with the fire of a thousand suns. Helen Huntingdon don't need no man. She's had enough of your friendzoning bullshit. The question "Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw[/Linton/whatever]?" has always annoyed me. I couldn't stand Wuthering Heights, accomplished though it was, and I think lots of people tend to assume I must be something of a Jane Eyre devotee: I'm not. I'm really not. The next time someone asks me which I prefer, I shall tell them: Helen Huntingdon. Emphatically, enthusiastically, and with the fire of a thousand suns. Helen Huntingdon don't need no man. She's had enough of your friendzoning bullshit. Helen Huntingdon will tell you precisely what she thinks of you, with documentary supporting evidence from your wife, and then she will close the library door and make good art, which you are not allowed to see. Helen Huntingdon is a force of nature, and and she has a happily-ever-after to manufacture for herself. She might not know exactly what it'll look like, but it'll be hers. This book... okay, let's get the one solitary negative out of the way, which is that the structure is a bit weird. The framing narrative is boring compared to the meat of the story, and the meat of the story is told in diary form. It doesn't really work. Do I care? Not in the slightest. For the first sixty or so pages, we join Whiner of the Month Gilbert Markham, who discovers that there's a new lady living at the house out of town - it's Wildfell Hall, she's the tenant, are you with me? - and she's far nicer and prettier and less of a bitch than the girl he's currently in love with, so he starts flirting. New Lady isn't interested. He embarrasses himself in a wide selection of ways: getting caught climbing in her window by her maid and being told to move on, punching a guy off his horse and having to sidle along and apologise later, endless "are you watching me paint"/"no"/"stop watching me paint, Gilbert" conversations... and then she decides to explain herself. What follows is Helen Huntingdon's diary through the first seven years of her marriage to a heinous bastard, from when they first meet, to when she leaves him. Anne Brontë sugar-coats nothing. She doesn't say there are good times. She doesn't suggest that Arthur Huntingdon might be alright, really, deep down. She doesn't even make him a monster. You'll recognise him; I certainly do. He's of a kind with Rochester, with Heathcliff, with a hundred men inspired by them (Edward Fairfax Rochester: the thinking woman's abusive romantic hero). But Anne Brontë tells the truth: you'll never reform him. He doesn't just love you. Nobody's different. This is what it's always going to be like. I read this for a book group, and we noted that Helen Huntingdon does what Isabella Linton does in Wuthering Heights: she marries young and idealistically, thinking she can change a man who obviously strings her along. She does her best, for as long as she can, and then she takes her son and runs. We're not really meant to like Isabella - she's young, she's foolish, we're sort of supposed to think she should have known better - but you know, I was with her all along, and I'm still with her. Luckily for us, Helen Huntingdon is a complete badass. She sticks around, she puts up with a lot, but she doesn't do it quietly. She doesn't lie down and take anything. There is a core of her that remains there, but it's not hidden away under layers of thick skin. It's right out in the open, and staring pointedly. And when it gets too much, she takes her son, and she leaves. And she supports herself. And she does difficult things, and they hurt, and she does them, and she grows as a character and as a woman (and I mean that as opposed to girl, rather than as opposed to man). Such character growth. I love it. She's portrayed positively, which is why she's different from Isabella Linton, why she's fascinating and important and my hero, and why you've not read this book. Anne, and Helen, were too far ahead of their time. It was too much, and Charlotte Brontë denied Wildfell Hall a reprint. It fell out of the public eye. In the 1970s, I gather, noticing that marriage wasn't always perfect came back into fashion, and the book had something of a resurgence. Frankly, it deserves a bigger one. In the author's foreword, she says that she was trying to write something true. For me, Wildfell Hall rings far more true than Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights ever did. The characters act in ways that are true. They say things, and respond to things, in ways that are true. They escape, finally, or don't, in ways that are true. I am happy that I have found this Brontë, for she is my Brontë and I am hers. I think you should read it. Seriously, you can borrow my copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    The second novel Anne wrote before she caught pulmonary tuberculosis shortly after her 29th birthday. Certainly not something on those 100 Things To Do Before You’re 30 Lists. 1) Paragliding. 2) Kayaking. 3) Catch pulmonary TB and die. See? Good. The problem with those lists is they presuppose readers like the outdoors and have a private income of some three zillion units. Far better the lists have simpler aims for us mortals: 1) Eat a probiotic yoghurt. 2) Bumslide down a banister. 3) Help dryw The second novel Anne wrote before she caught pulmonary tuberculosis shortly after her 29th birthday. Certainly not something on those 100 Things To Do Before You’re 30 Lists. 1) Paragliding. 2) Kayaking. 3) Catch pulmonary TB and die. See? Good. The problem with those lists is they presuppose readers like the outdoors and have a private income of some three zillion units. Far better the lists have simpler aims for us mortals: 1) Eat a probiotic yoghurt. 2) Bumslide down a banister. 3) Help drywall your father’s shed. 4) Post an actual letter. 5) Touch something with a DANGER OF DEATH sign. That sort of thing. Anyway. Anne’s second novel shows her evolving considerably as a prose composer—if not in terms of style or structure, certainly in terms of content and ideas. The structure is peculiar—the first 100pp concern Gilbert Markham’s attempts to chat up a reclusive new tenant at the titular Hall, before switching to the letters of said tenant, Helen Graham/Huntingdon. This is what we MFA graduates call a fucking huge narrative lurch, but the story becomes far more interesting as Helen’s narrative voice is the strongest (Gilbert doesn’t quite convince as a man) and more rife with intrigue, struggle and heartbreak, etc. She marries Arthur Huntington despite her supposed intelligence, an alcoholic in remission whose condition returns during his frequent trips to the dens of London. He soon morphs into a monster and Helen’s patience is tested to snapping point, forcing her to flee her fallen hubby. The novel is one of the strongest (and earliest) depictions of the human rights abuses the marriage laws of the period were capable of encouraging . . . by marrying a man the woman was entitled to hand everything she owned to the husband and become an obedient slave-creature. The prose meekly screams at this pathetic injustice and rightly so. The writing style is extremely circumlocutious in places and only very patient, bedridden readers will want to wade through the long monologues and nature descriptions . . . I mean this in comparison with other novels of the period, so heed that warning. The structure works surprisingly well as the narrative is handed back to Gilbert, although the clumsy recourse to letters to keep the story going makes the last quarter a painful flop technically speaking . . . plot-wise, I was bursting to know how things turned out for the long-suffering Helen. Excellent work. First Brontë has passed the test. Next: Charley.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marieke

    That was a rather long letter, eh?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Easily as comparably good as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights!

  20. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The tenant that is being referred to in the title of this book, The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is not actually a tenant. She owns the place being the child of the owner. She is born there and only comes back because she is running away from her alcoholic husband. The husband is slowly introducing alcohol to their 5-y/o child and so she bangs the door to her husband’s face, runs away to her former home, the estate called Wildfell under a fictitious name. The act of a married woman running away f The tenant that is being referred to in the title of this book, The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is not actually a tenant. She owns the place being the child of the owner. She is born there and only comes back because she is running away from her alcoholic husband. The husband is slowly introducing alcohol to their 5-y/o child and so she bangs the door to her husband’s face, runs away to her former home, the estate called Wildfell under a fictitious name. The act of a married woman running away from her husband especially with her child is against the prevailing law in England called “Married Women Property Act in 1870” that says: a wife has no independent legal existence. She cannot get separated from his husband, she cannot vote, she cannot decide alone for his kids, among others. Anne Bronte, the youngest of the gifted Bronte sisters has the above for her storyline. It is a huge departure from Jane Eyre’s fight to be happy or Catherine Earnshaw’s defiance to against his father and brother. Bronte’s Helen Lawrence Huntingdon, a.k.a., Helen Graham, defies law and she does not give damn about it. Many English readers raised their eyebrows and others said that this was not as good as Anne Bronte's sister's (or brother because they were using male pseudonyms) Jane Eyre. However, I believe that the reason Charlotte Bronte did not want this book re-published a year after Anne Bronte died was that Charlotte was jealous. In terms of characters, this book has a lot more than Jane Eyre and there are many sub-plots too. The main theme (the evil of alcohol abuse) is also more mature and seemed to be something that was close to the Bronte sister had since their loved one, their brother, Branwell Bronte succumbed to this vice and was the main reason for his early demise: he drank himself to death. The fight for independence that was equated to happiness during that Victorian times was pursued by Helen Graham as strong as how Jane Eyre fought for her Rochester and Anne Bronte (just like Charlotte Bronte) made sure that her plot would end up having the rightful lovers in each others' arms in the end. So, for romance lovers, this book does not disappoint. There are also many other similarities between the two: falling from the horse, rich uncle leaving his property to his niece making the niece very rich in the end, weak male characters, protagonist taking care of the sick villain and granting forgiveness, former wrong lover dying in the end for the heroine to marry the right guy, etc. I understand that those were basic ingredients of Victorian novels and the readers then look for those in the romance novels that they read. I just thought that those many similarities are too much of a coincidence so I was less amused now compared to when I read Jane Eyre last month. For the same reason, I thought that Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights stood tall and strong over her sister's most-known books. I only read these three just to know who was the best Bronte in my opinion. I have no doubt now that it was Emily. Wuthering is very different and so there was a rumor that Branwell helped Emily in writing it but I don't know about that. Of course, I will still read Charlotte's other works and someday I will also read Agnes Grey. You see, kick-ass Anne, who made her character defy the English law, did not disappoint me. I also liked this book. Thank you to my reading buddies, Ella and LS for reading this with me. Thank you to my brother for lending his copy of the book to me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Anne Bronte's second novel is often overshadowed by her sisters' more famous novels, Charlotte's Jane Eyre (and three others) and Emily's Wuthering Heights, but it is equally worth reading. It tells the story of Helen Huntingdon, a mysterious woman who comes to live at Wildfell Hall with her child and one servant, and Gilbert Markham, the young man who is powerfully drawn to her and eventually learns her secret: that she left her dissolute, drunken husband in order to shield their son from his i Anne Bronte's second novel is often overshadowed by her sisters' more famous novels, Charlotte's Jane Eyre (and three others) and Emily's Wuthering Heights, but it is equally worth reading. It tells the story of Helen Huntingdon, a mysterious woman who comes to live at Wildfell Hall with her child and one servant, and Gilbert Markham, the young man who is powerfully drawn to her and eventually learns her secret: that she left her dissolute, drunken husband in order to shield their son from his influence. The first and last sections are from Gilbert's point of view; the central, and most powerful, from Helen's, as Gilbert reads the diary in which she narrates the events of her marriage. Victorian readers found the scenes of Huntingdon's drunkenness and infidelity revolting and coarse, and they remain powerfully compelling today, though the subjects are less shocking to today's readers. Helen is a strong, willful, intelligent heroine, and to my mind, the novel's one real fault is that too much of the narrative is given to the less interesting Gilbert; once finished with Helen's diary, the story loses much of its power, though it regains some through the use of Helen's letters in the chapters leading up to the climax. Anne Brontë's voice is as passionate as her sisters', and her fierce truthfulness pervades the novel; as her preface to the second edition says, in response to the censures of critics and readers, "I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it." In penning this challenge to the conventional morals of Victorian society, Brontë told truths about the role of women and the potential pitfalls of marriage that are meaningful more than 150 years after the publication of her book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicole~

    The Not-So Merry Widow of Wildfell Hall Anne Brontë explores themes of alcohol abuse and the cruelty it wages on marriage and family; of a mother's ardent protection of her child; implicitly, of women's patterns of silence, alienation from society and forced isolation: in a surprisingly explicit story for its time, yet modern and relevant even today in its concealment of the truth, and the inadvertent practice by women of remaining voiceless in their plight. Slander, disrepute and condemnation of The Not-So Merry Widow of Wildfell Hall Anne Brontë explores themes of alcohol abuse and the cruelty it wages on marriage and family; of a mother's ardent protection of her child; implicitly, of women's patterns of silence, alienation from society and forced isolation: in a surprisingly explicit story for its time, yet modern and relevant even today in its concealment of the truth, and the inadvertent practice by women of remaining voiceless in their plight. Slander, disrepute and condemnation of the mysterious widow, Mrs. Graham (Helen), form on the wagging tongues of those upright and righteous personages who uphold the moral standards of the town so exaltedly high they may be in jeopardy of nosebleeds. Helen rigidly hides her past when she becomes The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but her discreet nondisclosure of her origins only serves to impugn her virtuousness. The first part of the novel is narrated by Gilbert Markham , a young man quite taken by the newly arrived widow. He is at first Helen's champion, defending her secretive former life: "There is such a thing as looking through a person's eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another's soul in one hour than it might take you a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it;" but falls into that very pattern of misjudgment of her, as malicious gossip and jealousy cloud his perception. Helen's character is degraded- censure and misunderstanding of the quietness she wishes to maintain, disturb the peace she seeks at Wildfell Hall. The truth of Helen's past unravels in the second portion of the novel through the reading of the diaries she offers to Markham, revealing her violent life with husband, Arthur Huntingdon - who turns out to be very much alive. The opening chapters of the diaries give us a view of two women: young and impetuous Helen and her cautious Aunt Maxwell, setting the tone for marriage prospects. "I know many that have...been the wretched victims of deceit; and some, through weakness, have fallen into snares and temptations terrible to relate...If you should marry the handsomest, and most accomplished and superficially agreeable man in the world, you little know the misery that would overwhelm you if, after all, you should find him to be a worthless reprobate or even an impractical fool. " - Aunt Maxwell. Anne Brontë asserts in the preface that the novel "tells the truth", speaking for women who suffer at the hands of others and for whatever reason, are unable to speak out openly for themselves. Helen suspects her aunt may have suffered such an experience by her uncle who had shown signs of having lived wantonly like Arthur Huntingdon; and like her aunt, Helen deals with her disillusionment of her husband, and his cruelty, by not speaking of it. Had her aunt been more forthcoming of her own afflicted marriage, perhaps Helen would have heeded her earlier urging to stay clear of a man like Arthur; and perhaps, the cycle of abuse and the muted inexpressiveness that follows in fashion might have come to a halt. Part three of the novel shows Helen as the forgiving, caregiving wife, though previously punished by the cruel hands of her patient, nurses him to his dying day, evoking vague similarities to Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, though Charlotte, in the effort of sisterly support (I hope), might not have objected. Anne stealthily lets the reader in on the lives of different women at different angles- wives, mothers, sisters, adulteresses; the relationships they endure- healthy or otherwise, the brutality they may suffer, and the motivations that drive them forward - for Helen, such is the foremost role of mother and protector of her son. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published in 1848, a novel that incorporates significant social themes of the time and in my estimation, did not gain the high notability it should have. Anne Brontë's depiction of "a morbid love of the coarse, if not of the brutal," of situations of abused and silenced women: still hold true in the 21st century. "I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it. Let it not be imagined, however, that I consider myself competent to reform the errors and abuses of society, but only that I would fain contribute my humble quota towards so good an aim; and if I can gain the public ear at all, I would rather whisper a few wholesome truths therein than much soft nonsense." - Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Re-read May 2015

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by the English author Anne Brontë. It was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym Acton Bell. The novel is framed as a series of letters from Gilbert Markham to his friend about the events connected with his meeting a mysterious young widow, calling herself Helen Graham, who arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and a servant. C The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by the English author Anne Brontë. It was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym Acton Bell. The novel is framed as a series of letters from Gilbert Markham to his friend about the events connected with his meeting a mysterious young widow, calling herself Helen Graham, who arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and a servant. Contrary to the early 19th century norms, Helen pursues an artist's career and makes an income by selling her pictures. Mrs Graham's strict seclusion soon gives rise to gossip in the neighbouring village and she becomes a social outcast. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert befriends Mrs Graham and discovers her past. In the diary she gives Gilbert, Helen chronicles her husband's physical and moral decline through alcohol and debauchery in the dissipated aristocratic society. Ultimately Helen flees with her son, whom she desperately wishes to save from his father's influence. The depiction of marital strife and women's professional identification has also a strong moral message mitigated by Anne Brontë's belief in universal salvation. عنوانها: ح‍ق‍ی‍ق‍ت‌ ع‍ش‍ق‌ (م‍س‍ت‍اج‍ر ع‍م‍ارت‌ وی‍ل‍دف‍ی‍ل‌)؛ مستأجر عمارت وایلدفل؛ مستاجر عمارت وایلدفل؛ مستاجر ملک وایلدفل‌هال‬؛ ‏‫مستاجر وایلدفل هال‬؛ نویسنده: آن برونته؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نهم ماه آگوست سال 2014میلادی عنوان: ح‍ق‍ی‍ق‍ت‌ ع‍ش‍ق‌ (م‍س‍ت‍اج‍ر ع‍م‍ارت‌ وی‍ل‍دف‍ی‍ل‌)؛ نویسنده: آن‌ ب‍رون‍ت‍ه‌؛ مت‍رج‍م: روش‍ن‌ آق‍اخ‍ان‍ی‌؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌: اردی‍ب‍ه‍ش‍ت‌‏‫، 1372؛ در 422 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ شابک: 9789641710035؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 19 م عنوان: مستاجر وایلدفل هال؛ نویسنده: آن‌ ب‍رون‍ت‍ه‌؛ مت‍رج‍م: رضا رضایی؛ تهران: نشر نی‏‫، 1392؛‬ در 616 ص؛ شابک: 9789641853060؛ چاپ دوم 1395؛ چاپ سوم 1397؛ عنوان: مستاجر ملک وایلدفل هال؛ نویسنده: آن‌ ب‍رون‍ت‍ه‌؛ مت‍رج‍م: اسماعیل قهرمانی‌پور؛ تهران: روزگار‏‫، 1393؛‬ در 464 ص؛ شابک: 9789643744670؛ عنوان: مستأجر عمارت وایلدفل؛ نویسنده: آن‌ ب‍رون‍ت‍ه‌؛ مت‍رج‍م: مرتضی اسدخواه؛ ویراستار: مرجان صادقی؛ تهران: بادبان‏‫، 1395؛‬ در 496 ص؛ شابک: 9786007005590؛ عنوان: مستاجر عمارت وایلدفل؛ نویسنده: آن‌ ب‍رون‍ت‍ه‌؛ مت‍رج‍م: مریم صادقی؛ ویراستار: مرضیه‌ السادات حسینی‌ آذر؛ تهران: متن دیگر‏‫، 1395؛‬ در 496 ص؛ شابک: 9786009636860؛ فهرست کتاب مستاجر ملک وایلدفل هال: دیباچه؛ نکته‌ ای راجع به متن کتاب؛ مستاجر وایلد فل هال؛ خدمت هالفورد تقدیم می‌شود؛ فصل 1: یک کشف؛ فصل 2: یک مصاحبه؛ فصل 3: یک مشاجرة لفظی؛ فصل 4: مهمانی؛ فصل 5: استودیوی نقاشی؛ فصل 6: سیر و سیاحت در اطراف؛ فصل 7: به گردش رفتن؛ فصل 8: کادو؛ فصل 9: ماری در میان علف‌ها؛ فصل 10: یک پیمان و یک جر و بحث؛ فصل 11: باز هم آقای قائم‌مقام مذهبی؛ فصل 12: یک گفتگوی خودمانی دو نفری و یک کشف خردکننده؛ فصل 13: مجدداً به کار چسبیدن؛ فصل 14: یک مشاجرة لفظی منجر به ضرب و شتم؛ فصل 15: یک برخورد و پی‌آمدهای آن؛ فصل 16: اخطارهای تجارب؛ فصل 17: اخطارهای بعدی؛ فصل 18: یک نقاشی صورت؛ فصل 19: یک اتفاق؛ فصل 20: پافشاری؛ فصل 21: نظریات؛ فصل 22: علائم دوستی؛ فصل 23: اولین هفته‌های ازدواج؛ فصل 24: اولین جر و بحث؛ فصل 25: اوّلین غیبت؛ فصل 26: آمدن مهمانان؛ فصل 27: یک گناه؛ فصل 28: عواطف والدینی؛ فصل 29: همسایه؛ فصل 30: صحنه‌های خانگی؛ فصل 31: محاسن اجتماعی؛ فصل 32: رد کردن اطلاعات دریافتی از طریق مقایسه؛ فصل 33: ماجراهای دو شب؛ فصل 34: حفظ ظاهر؛ فصل 35: برافروختگی‌ها؛ فصل 36: تنهایی دو نفری؛ فصل 37: باز هم همسایه؛ فصل 38: مرد دلشکسته؛ فصل 39: طرح فرار؛ فصل 40: یک بد بیاری؛ فصل 41: امید انسان‌ها در دلشان جوانه می‌زد؛ فصل 42: یک نوع اصلاحات؛ فصل 43: مرزها فرو می‌ریزد؛ فصل 44: فرار؛ فصل 45؛ فصل 46: مشاورة دوستانه؛ فصل 47: یک خبر بهت‌آور؛ فصل 48: اطلاعات بیشتر؛ فصل 49؛ فصل 50: شک‌ها و تردیدها و یاس‌ها؛ فصل 51: یک رویداد غیرمنتظره؛ فصل 52: تردیدها و دودلی‌ها؛ فصل 53: نتیجه‌ گیری در کتاب «مستاجر ملک وایلدفل هال»، «آن برونته» در نظر دارد، حقیقت را بیان کند، زیرا حقیقت همواره اخلاقیات را به آنهایی انتقال می‌دهد، که توانایی درک آن را دارند. او با جسارت و اصرار فراوان، قدم جلو گذاشت، تا افسانه‌ های رمانتیک که ناشی از عشق بوده‌ اند را، در‌هم بکوبد. یک زن بیوه، همراه با پسر و خدمتکار خود، به «وایلدفل هال» می‌آید. مردم شهر، داستان‌های عجیبی در مورد او، و زندگی گذشته‌ اش تعریف می‌کنند، اما «گیلبرت مارکهام»، که دل به او باخته، تلاش می‌کند تا این داستان‌ها را باور نکند. اما با گذر زمان دچار تردید می‌شود، که آیا اعتمادش به جا بوده است؟ این رمان به باور بسیاری از منتقدین، یکی از نخستین رمان‌های فمنیستی است. این دیدگاه «آن» از ابراز حقیقت، در رمان «مستاجر ملک وایلدفل هال»، روی تفسیر کتاب «جین ایر» و «بلندی‌های بادگیر»، به قلم خواهرانش، تاثیر گذاشته، و سطح آنها را به‌ طور قابل ملاحظه‌ ای، بالا برده است. اما واقعیات و نیروی اعمال شده روی خوانشگران رمان «مستاجر وایلد فل هال»، موجب ضربه و ناراحتی روحی، حتی روی آن تعداد از مرور کننده‌ های این رمان شده است، که به توانایی‌های قابل ملاحظه ی مولف آن، واکنش نشان داده‌ اند. «چارلز کینگزلی»، منتقد مجله «فریزر»، توانایی و جسارت «آن»، در خلق یک کتاب جالب را، مورد تایید قرار داده، و باور دارد که: ما باید از نویسنده‌ ای همانند «آن»، برای برملا کردن باطن کثیف جامعه ی انگلیس، در ورای ظاهر‌ «تر و تمیزش» سپاسگزار باشیم. البته خود «برونته» نیز، به خشونت غیرضروری، و لحن تند قلم‌ خویش، پی برده است. از‌ سوی دیگر، آقای «شارپ»، منتقد مجله لندن، عقیده دارد که علاقه ی شدید، و استعداد موجود در این رمان، باید به صورت مثبت، مورد بررسی قرار بگیرد، زیرا احتمال دارد، که خانم‌های خوانشگر این رمان، دلشان بخواهد، همان شیوه‌ ها را، خودشان به مورد اجرا بگذارند، و از همان کلمات خشن، که در این کتاب در اختیارشان قرار می‌دهیم، استفاده کنند، و عین همانها را در صفحه «شارپ» مجله، به خود ما منعکس کرده‌ اند. با مقایسه ی ویژگیهای اخلاقی عالی، خوانشگر این رمان، سر در گم می‌ماند، که «اکتون بل» مرد است یا زن. یک فرضیه برای حل این چیستان می‌تواند این باشد، که شوهر این خانم مولف، یا یک آشنای مرد، او را در نوشتن این رمان، یاری می‌داده است. جای تعجب اینجا است، که رمان «مستاجر وایلد فل هال»، به قلم کوچکترین خواهران «برونته» نوشته شده است، که حتی در سن نوزده سالگی، اشکال تکلم داشت، و خواهرانش از این می‌ترسیدند، که خانم «اینگهم»، صاحب‌کار او، خیال خواهد کرد، که او ذاتاً ناتوان است. و یک دهه بعد، به نظر یکی از ناشرین لندن بنام «جرج اسمیت»، «آن برونته» با اشعار، و دو تا از رمان‌هایش، که مایه ی افتخار او بودند، یک زن ملایم رسیده بود، نه عاجز و ناتوان، که به حمایت احتیاج داشته باشد، نوعی حالت تمنا داشت، که موجب دلسوزی می‌شد. «آن» با علم به‌ درستی هدف‌ خویش، از این دیدگاه‌های خشن، شدیداً در عذاب بود. اصل نسخه ی دست‌نویس کتاب «مستاجر وایلد فل هال» باقی نمانده است. از نامه ی «گیلبرت مارکهم» فرستاده‌ شده به «هالفورد»، استنباط می‌شود، که «آن برانته» این کتاب را بین تابستان سال 1846 میلادی تا ماه ژوئن سال 1847 میلادی نوشته بود. زیرا در فاصله ماه‌های آگوست و نوامبر سال 1847 میلادی، «آن» سرگرم اصلاح نسخه اول کتاب «اگنس گری» خودش، که پیش از این کتاب گاشته، بوده است، اما پس از چاپ آن در ماه دسامبر، «آن» فرصت لازم برای نگاشتن کتاب «مستاجر وایلد فل هال» را، در اختیار داشته و گویا اصل کتاب «مستاجر» نیز، به قلم خود «آن برونته»، در کتابخانه دانشگاه پرینستن موجود است. ا. شربیانی

  24. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    All the stars for this book! For me, it is on a par with Jane Eyre and better than Wuthering Heights. What a talented bunch of writers these sisters were! I can imagine jaws dropping all over victorian England at the publication of this book; a woman standing up to her abusive husband and slamming the bedroom door firmly shut in his face! What a spirited woman Anne was and she obviously wrote with some knowledge of the damage alcohol does to a person, as it is well known her brother was addicted All the stars for this book! For me, it is on a par with Jane Eyre and better than Wuthering Heights. What a talented bunch of writers these sisters were! I can imagine jaws dropping all over victorian England at the publication of this book; a woman standing up to her abusive husband and slamming the bedroom door firmly shut in his face! What a spirited woman Anne was and she obviously wrote with some knowledge of the damage alcohol does to a person, as it is well known her brother was addicted.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Funny how things change. I used to love this book. I pretty much can't stand it now. 3 stars (it was 5 before today) is just an obligatory i-appreciate-but-not-really-care-for-it rating. Anne Brontë and I would have never been friends, because it's hard to be a friend with someone so damn righteous and unbendable. Sure, Helen Graham and Agnes Grey are fictional characters, but is there a doubt they are reflections of the author? Not in my mind. Granted, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a huge impro Funny how things change. I used to love this book. I pretty much can't stand it now. 3 stars (it was 5 before today) is just an obligatory i-appreciate-but-not-really-care-for-it rating. Anne Brontë and I would have never been friends, because it's hard to be a friend with someone so damn righteous and unbendable. Sure, Helen Graham and Agnes Grey are fictional characters, but is there a doubt they are reflections of the author? Not in my mind. Granted, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a huge improvement over Anne's earlier, even more self-righteous Agnes Grey. Helen was at least allowed to make a BIG MISTAKE, unlike Agnes, goodness incarnate. But both women are just so nauseatingly correct and I-know-better, so judgmental of others, with such staunch beliefs, it's off-putting. I can't even find energy to write what Anne did great in this work (and there are of course things she should be praised for). Today this book suffocated me with the writer's sour attitude and moralizing. Will my opinion of this novel change in another 10 years?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    4.9/5 I'm currently pulling this and Jane Eyre apart for an essay on the Coming of Age of the Abject Woman. Naturally, Victorian lit of the het cis sane (main character only, which means no Bertha Mason) and white variety is rather slim pickings for such a topic, but I may as well start in a place that will be useful for grad school and, for all my commitments to works beyond the pale, still manages to impress. There's also the matter that with these works, unlike Beloved and Almanac of the Dead, 4.9/5 I'm currently pulling this and Jane Eyre apart for an essay on the Coming of Age of the Abject Woman. Naturally, Victorian lit of the het cis sane (main character only, which means no Bertha Mason) and white variety is rather slim pickings for such a topic, but I may as well start in a place that will be useful for grad school and, for all my commitments to works beyond the pale, still manages to impress. There's also the matter that with these works, unlike Beloved and Almanac of the Dead, I'm not out of my league in terms of consorting of the academic type. In any case, I'm in the last leg of my undergrad career (amazingly enough), and I might as well make the most of it, serious writing wise. The plot for this, and in many ways the narrative construction, are ridiculous. So are the ones for Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, for that matter, and casting back I remember more strongly pronounced disbelief in reaction to other specimens of this era's lit, a smidge when it came to North and South and utter hilarity in the case of Great Expectations. Reason and rationality, then, are not what classrooms all over this postcolonial dynamic of a world of ours come back to these for again, and again, and again. Narratologicaly speaking, one would have an easy time of characterizing this as poorly constructed trash, (which has most assuredly been done time and time again from the moment it was published and at an even more accelerated pace when it was discovered that a woman held the pen) so what is it? What made it so that, almost exactly a year after I finished work this under my own power, I was assigned it as a part and parcel of the culminating class of my degree, not as mere excerpt or memorized recitation but member of trifecta? I'd give anything for this work to age badly, I really would. The microaggressions it contains are factors neither of racism nor ableism, and the classism is more internalized than anything else, but boil them down to a fundamental level and this is fear in a handful of dust. You're merchandise, so don't complain about never having it all. You're vulnerable, so god forbid you're ever given a choice. That lack of thing between your legs dictates all from a plethora of targeted slurs to the socioeconomics of your legal right to being human, so if you want justice for rape or humanization of rape: prove it. The alienation by social mechanisms of the breaking of faith and the subversion of civilized conduct is subtle and systemic enough to merit a paper, which is exactly what I'm going to do. This, however, is not only for the centerpiece of Helen Graham's diary, but for the flanked outposts of male narrator/male narrator, a voice that develops without word during the midst of hers that, proof upon proof, outlet upon outlet, paints this boy a picture of exactly what he has committed and how he could yet turn out. So long as monsters continue to think themselves the everyman and the everyman insures the status quo, there will always be a need for the writing kith and kin of Anne Brontë. Theoretical academic constructs allow for amused and gratified reflection of the final stages of this work in comparison to Pride and Prejudice's Pemberley scene, as well as surprisingly vast class discussions on matters of nipples, children as social construct, and how in the US once a man starts stalking you he, for all practical legal matters, owns you until death do you part. I'm a tad under the weather, so if I've wandered off any more than usual through the duration of this, blame it on that. In any case, you've my previous year's effort as an example of a more focused endeavor. If you had no higher motive than the approval of your fellow mortal, it would do you little good. --- 4/18/15 Review 4.9/5 I would not send a poor girl into the world unarmed against her foes, and ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power, or the will, to watch and guard herself; —and as for my son — if I thought he would grow up to be what you call a man of the world — one that has “seen life,” and glories in his experience, even though he should so far profit by it, as to sober down, at length, into a useful and respected member of society — I would rather that he died to-morrow! — rather a thousand times! I have an abiding interest in the rituals by which human beings stave off the decision of killing themselves. Morbid, perhaps, but there's no use in beating around the bush when it comes to the earthly fear of hell or the continued existence of hell on earth. This is, of course, all very Christianity-centric, and my Catholic upbringing has only prepared me for a few works here and there that cleave so insistently to the European vein of Testaments. While I wait for others of a different theological bent to give their views on how well this Bible-laden work deals with suffusions of duty, guilt, and the fight or flight of the socially-ground soul, I will satisfy myself with a familiar spiritual footing. Different as the many religions may be, Protestantism's not the only one that condemns the taking of one's own life. What he would be, if I did not so watchfully anticipate his wants, and so carefully avoid, or immediately desist from, doing anything that has a tendency to irritate or disturb him, with however little reason, I cannot tell. I may not have given this work the full fathom five, but I can tell you this: Anne Brontë does not fuck around. The Golden Notebook and The Piano Teacher may be more incisively brutal in their own respective right, but it was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall that refused to flinch first. I choose other privileged-white-woman narratives to fill the ranks not out of lack of experience with other physiognomical-specific vivisections, but so as to not belittle said latter. Clipped as Helen's wings are, never does she face the prospect of selling her body for food in a far blunter manner than her marriage contract allows for. Do not, however, interpret this as a scoffing at the abuse that is afforded by said contract: what doesn't kill you breaks you for life. Well then, Arthur, how can you call it nothing — an offence for which you would think yourself justified in blowing another man’s brains out? Alongside the themes of religion and marriage in early 19th century England, there is the matter of the intersection of gender and violence. Rather than indulge in the usual lazy stereotypes of the bitchy woman and the manhandling man, this work affords a glimpse at how these traits are developed for means of survival. Gentrified as the plot of this story may be, the social norm of reputation is shown to be a powerful force indeed when it comes to enforced isolation of both well-off genders. Everyone is allowed to play when all is fine and well, a promise coupled with the slightest misstep guaranteed to be met with a variation on the theme of a caved-in skull. The power plays by which Helen is bound to Huntington's abode have a whiff of The Metamorphosis about them, for what's the form of a woman who will not cooperate with house-bound benefactors? ‘I am satisfied,’ he replied, with bitter emphasis, ‘that you are the most cold-hearted, unnatural, ungrateful woman I ever yet beheld!’ ‘Ungrateful, sir?’ ‘Ungrateful.’ ‘No, Mr. Hargrave; I am not. For all the good you ever did me, or ever wished to do, I most sincerely thank you: for all the evil you have done me, and all you would have done. I pray God to pardon you, and make you of a better mind.’ Comprehensive as Anne's vision is, I have to wonder whether her continued violation of Helen's confidence for the sake of tying the narrative together was a matter of a writer's inexperience or a commentary on the ubiquity of a woman's lot in life. In terms of Gilbert Markham, when one considers his first person narration and those few ripped out pages of Helen's diary, whether he is a true good or a mere lesser evil will never be riddled out to my satisfaction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Although this work does not have the time-tested mythic qualities of the two masterpieces penned by her famous sisters ("Jane Eyre" and "Wurthering Heights"), Anne Bronte has given us a brilliant novel with a mysterious protagonist that raises some compelling issues about a woman's rights to gain control of her life in 19th century rural England. It is the first half of the 19th century in a provincial rural hamlet. News comes of a widow with a small child who has let rooms in a dilapidated old Although this work does not have the time-tested mythic qualities of the two masterpieces penned by her famous sisters ("Jane Eyre" and "Wurthering Heights"), Anne Bronte has given us a brilliant novel with a mysterious protagonist that raises some compelling issues about a woman's rights to gain control of her life in 19th century rural England. It is the first half of the 19th century in a provincial rural hamlet. News comes of a widow with a small child who has let rooms in a dilapidated old mansion on the outskirts of the community. This immediately arouses the curiosity of the local gentry and they begin to reach out to her as good neighbors will. The widow, a Mrs. Helen Graham, is reluctant to accept these invitations. Her reluctance to join the community begins to spark rumors. A young farmer, Gilbert Markham, begins a friendship with the widow and her son and eventually finds himself falling in love with the lady. She refuses him and he cannot understand why. In modern parlance, it is obvious that the widow has got some serious "baggage" but to 19th century Mr. Markham this is just confounding. Eventually, after some nasty drama, Mrs. Graham lends Mr. Markham her diary and it is through this device that we learn her rather extensive backstory. This was reread for me and I found it just as satisfying as I did the first time. For its time, it was an unabashedly feminist work and it remains a literary classic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This was a beautiful love story with one of the most interesting narrative styles I've ever encountered. Without saying too much, the narration of this story shifts, and the overall style is not your typical narration style of a novel. Does this make sense? :P I hope not, because I want for you to read this book and see for yourself what I'm talking about (also I'm really tired when writing this, so bear with me). Anne Brontë has a way of creating very complicated and also mean characters, and I This was a beautiful love story with one of the most interesting narrative styles I've ever encountered. Without saying too much, the narration of this story shifts, and the overall style is not your typical narration style of a novel. Does this make sense? :P I hope not, because I want for you to read this book and see for yourself what I'm talking about (also I'm really tired when writing this, so bear with me). Anne Brontë has a way of creating very complicated and also mean characters, and I love it. I did see some ressemblances between this book and "Wuthering Heights", and I liked it. As a matter of fact, I think I like "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" just a little bit more, because to me it read more easily and had a beautiful storyline. The characters of this book come with a heavy background, and it's the gradual revelation of this background that makes the story so interesting. While this book is my favourite by Anne Brontë so far, I did have some minor problems with it. The middle part dragged on a bit too long for my taste, and I started questioning one of the characters' behaviour and lack of decision-making (yes, I just made that a word!). But all in all, I admire Anne Brontë's talent and way of telling a compelling story that will drag you in and leave you with a smile on your face :)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I can't believe that this book isn't more widely read, I mean Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are usually mentioned when discussing classic works of fiction by women- yet this is relatively ignored. I honestly didn't know of this books existence before I went to the library and saw it on the shelf. I didn't know Anne had written anything other than poems. I often feel that Anne is in Emily and Charlotte's shadow but this piece of work is truly inspiring - perhaps more so at I can't believe that this book isn't more widely read, I mean Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are usually mentioned when discussing classic works of fiction by women- yet this is relatively ignored. I honestly didn't know of this books existence before I went to the library and saw it on the shelf. I didn't know Anne had written anything other than poems. I often feel that Anne is in Emily and Charlotte's shadow but this piece of work is truly inspiring - perhaps more so at the time. A women left her disgraceful husband and survived purely on her own strength, talent and tenacity. This was as far as I know, unheard of in the time when this was written (I apologise- I am very ignorant about dates) and so for this I admire Anne Bronte for her persevering with this tale even in the face of public outcry. She makes the decision not to be naive to the realities of marriages at the time, so records it in fiction and for this she is truly inspiring. Anne desereves a lot more credit than she gets. Anyway, I highly recommend this book, it is full of love, strength and courage and if that isn't enough well, just read some of the other glowing reports on Goodreads.

  30. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    Let’s start with some fun facts: One of my most used annotations in regards to Mr Huntingdon was: “the fuck outta here” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Gilbert was: “kill it with fire” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Helen was: “ugh” and “can’t relate”. Clearly, I had a good time. The only reason why I didn’t rate The Tenant of Wildfell Hall one star is the fact that I gave Anne an additional star for good intentions. Yes, I am a generous hoe. The Let’s start with some fun facts: One of my most used annotations in regards to Mr Huntingdon was: “the fuck outta here” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Gilbert was: “kill it with fire” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Helen was: “ugh” and “can’t relate”. Clearly, I had a good time. The only reason why I didn’t rate The Tenant of Wildfell Hall one star is the fact that I gave Anne an additional star for good intentions. Yes, I am a generous hoe. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of the most boring pieces of literature I ever had the displeasure of reading: it took me nine months to finish it. To be fair, I actively read the book for maybe two weeks but for the longest time I just couldn’t bring myself to read more than two pages because it was so insufferable, last week I just said fuck it and read the remaining 400 pages within four days… It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… wait, wrong novel! So let’s get the good shit out of the way because there won’t be much of it: Anne’s intentions. In the preface she states that she just wanted to speak her truth, she didn’t come here to play, she didn’t wanna entertain the readers (and oh boy, did she excel at that, I was never less entertained…), she wanted to educate her readers, especially young boys and girls, she says that if she has just kept one unfortunate soul from committing the mistake of their lives (aka being lured into an abusive marriage by means of looks and money) she can die happily… ehhh, alright, I’ll bite back my snarky comment on that part, after all, we should respect the dead. ;) It’s also very clear that Anne planned this novel very well. In the first proper chapter we learn that Arthur “shrank away from the ruby nectar as if in terror and disgust, and was ready to cry when urged to take it.” Later we learn how he was abused and forced by his father to drink alcohol, and how his mother then took it upon herself to mix the alcohol with “poison” (I know, classy) to keep Arthur from drinking it. It’s nice and well-plotted through that Arthur’s then-found distaste for alcohol can be seen in the first chapter already. Its cause will be revealed to the reader later. The first few chapters were definitely the strongest. I liked Anne’s progressive take on Victorian parenting and that her protagonist didn’t shy away from calling out all of the sexist bullshit apparent in society; that boys should be treated differently from girls, and that girls are raised to be dependent on the men in their life, I love the fact that Helen decided to raise her son to her own accord and not adhering to these stupid rules. Gilbert was super intrusive and Helen was having none of his shit. I applaud that. And even Rose, his sister, calls out the traditional gender roles in her family and how she is “nothing” compared to her brothers, and how her well-being isn’t of interest to anyone; that she is taught that “she shouldn’t think of herself”, only of others, whereas the men of the family act exactly the other way around and get praise for it. And whilst I somewhat appreciate her intentions, especially since she wrote so brutally and honestly about the abuse a lot of women faced at the hand of men in their matrimony, I also think that they were eventually her downfall: Anne didn’t simply wanna educate the reader and raise awareness for the plight of women, she also wanted to moralise her readers, she felt herself on moral high ground and passed on life lesson after life lesson… none of which I asked for. On page 135, when Helen’s aunt gives her some love advice so that she wouldn’t fall for Mr. Huntingdon, I really felt Anne’s presence through the page: “First study; then approve; then love. Let your eyes be blind to all external attractions, your ears deaf to all the fascinations of flattery and light discourse. — These are nothing — and worse than nothing — snares and wiles of the temper, to lure the thoughtless to their own destruction.” That’s the message she wanted to pass on to young boys and girls, don’t be fooled by good looks and money. It’s really not that deep, I am still wondering why she needed over 500 pages to get it over with. How badly she wanted to make a point is most clearly seen in the fact that almost all of her characters are painted in a black and white fashion. They’re either good (and by ‘good’ I mean literal angels descended from heaven) like good ole Helen Graham or extremely ‘bad’ (meaning evil and abusive and horrible and corrupt and sluts and whatnot). Her flat characters really diminished her message and actually contradicted her original goal of wanting to write a realistic story, “depicting people as she knew them to really be.” I’ll definitely give her some plus points on Huntingdon’s character because I think he is the most realistic and accurate, again, she wrote really well about domestic abuse, and the perverse methods of manipulation that Huntingdon used to lure little naive Helen into his marriage trap, but all the other ‘evil’ characters just got on my damn nerves, since Anne perpetuated the idea that women who are promiscuous are inherently ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ and do not deserve a happy ending. All of these ‘slutty’ women died miserably and alone, and rightfully so according to this narrative. Can’t relate. Apart from that, I also hated the plot device of having a story within a story within a story within a story (… I wish I was kidding). And every single diary entry, letter and normal dialogue and prose sounded the exact fucking same. I am so mad. I did not sign up for this shit, as Anne was clearly a talented writer, why did she have to make everything so bland and same-sounding? At one point, I was actually so confused at the beginning of a chapter that I wrote down: “Is this Gilbert talking?” only to realise 50 lines later that it was still a diary entry from Helen. I cry. Anne Brontë sadly didn’t manage to capture different narrative voices well, all the characters sounded the same and all the different “genres” as well. Not only is her narrative extremely boring, it’s also incredibly predictable. There was almost no suspense since Helen couldn’t quite shake her angelic and hyper religious ways (let’s not talk about the latter, I do not have the strength for a five minute rant right now, JUST NO!) and thus she just kept repeating the same mistakes and actions over and over again. When she went back to Huntingdon as he lay dying I rolled my eyes so hard I saw the back of my head. I really hope she finds her fucking salvation, just don’t let me witness that. All of the additional drama concerning Helen and Gilbert’s story line was just laughable: Gilbert mistaking Helen’s brother for her lover (just ugh, the fuck outta here), Helen constantly being unwilling to admit her feelings to him and Gilbert just being the most possessive asshole ever, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned into a Huntingdon 2.0. Gilbert is like a toddler who’s obsessed with his favorite toy and who can’t take no for an answer. He is presuming and honestly takes “desperate” to another level; he was literally ready to murder a dude out of jealousy. Calm the fuck down. And the fact that he just wouldn’t leave Helen alone even after she kept insisting that she wasn’t interested in his company, got on my damn nerves. Just to give you a taste of some of their “quality” dialogues: –“So let me entreat you to leave me!” –“I will; but answer me this one question first;—do you love me?” –“I will not answer it!” –“Then I will conclude you do; and so goodnight.” She turned from me to hide the emotion she could not quite control; but I took her hand and fervently kissed it. –“Gilbert, do leave me!” she cried, in a tone of such thrilling anguish that I felt it would be cruel to disobey. At one point, Gilbert says of Helen: “I can crush that bold spirit.” And they say romance is dead. I know Brontë stans will tell me now that this is exactly what Anne intended, to show that women back then had literally no better choices. I get it. I agree with it. The way it was executed in the text was beyond messy and just pissed me off. Oh Anne, my love, we just weren’t meant to be. I adore my darling child Emily very dearly, but both her sisters left me thoroughly disappointed. Charlotte still takes the cake tho, Tenant is a masterpiece compared to Jane Eyre. Tis a short life, so BYE FELICIA.

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