(BN) The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall
(BN) The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall
(BN) The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall
(BN) The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall

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• Book description • With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Merchant, Christchurch University College. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful and sometimes violent novel of expectation, love, oppression, sin, religion and betrayal. It portrays the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Huntingdon, the mysterious tenant of the title, and her dissolute, alcoholic husband. Defying convention, Helen leaves her husband to protect their young son from his father's influence, and earns her own living as an artist. Whilst in hiding at Wildfell Hall, she encounters Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her. On its first publication in 1848, Anne Brontë's second novel was criticised for being 'coarse' and 'brutal'. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall challenges the social conventions of the early nineteenth century in a strong defence of women's rights in the face of psychological abuse from their husbands. Anne Brontë's style is bold, naturalistic and passionate, and this novel, which her sister Charlotte considered 'an entire mistake', has earned her a position in English Literature in her own right. • Review • Of the three Bronte sisters, Emily and Charlotte are better known, yet it is Anne's work which carries some of the strongest feminist themes. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a devout young woman named Helen falls in love with a man who is handsome, but whose values are questionable; willing to believe she can alter his character, she marries him. Her marriage becomes a misery she has no power to change until she devises a bold plan to take control. Her story comes through two voices - her own and that of Gilbert Markham, a man who falls in love with Helen later in her life - and is told through journals and letters written over a period of time. Because of the privacy and immediacy of these narratives, the reader sees personal changes and attitudes Helen and Gilbert are often unaware of at the time: we witness Helen's first naive protestations of passion for her husband and follow her through her eventual disillusionment; we recognize Gilbert's early, unconscious egotism. While the plot continues and mysteries are unraveled, what Helen and Gilbert say - as well as what they don't say - provides another story to follow, which reinforces Anne Bronte's indictment of the sexual double standards of nineteenth-century Britain. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out . -- From ; review by Erica Bauermeister


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