The Tenant of Wildfell Hall can hold its own against Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights any day in the week, but it was panned in its own time, in large part because of its unladylike topic of alcoholism.Read more...
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall can hold its own against Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights any day in the week, but it was panned in its own time, in large part because of its unladylike topic of alcoholism. Anne Bronte knew alcoholism first hand through her brother Bramwell who drank himself to death, and her revulsion of the alcoholic personality is central to this book.
The heroine of Tenant, Helen Graham, is a headstrong and independent young woman, who marries Arthur Huntington against the advice of her family. She is one of those who loves not wisely but too well, because Arthur, a selfish and irresponsible womanizer, cares about nothing but satisfying his own wishes and desires.
Helen wants to help Arthur turn his life around, which Arthur couldnt care less about, and his drinking and adultery right under her nose eventually repels her to the point where she despises him as much as she once loved him.
It is only when she sees him attempting to influence her young son to become a chip off the old block, that she realizes her responsibility as a mother to save her son from his father trumps her duty as a wife to stand by her husband. With the help of her brother, she runs away with her son to the anonymity of life in a small village.
Here she meets Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her, but realizes that their relationship has no future as long as her husband is alive. Arthurs ultimate death from alcoholism not only frees Helen from an abusive and degrading marriage, it also leaves her free to find happiness with Gilbert.
Anne Bronte pulled no punches in writing this book and that is probably what so perturbed readers of her own era; too bad for them, because they were unable to appreciate this book for what it is, one of the unrecognized classics of English literature.
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