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Flashcards in Anne Bronte Deck (31):
1

Anne Bronte's pseudonym

Acton Bell

2

When is Tenant of Wildfell Hall published?

1848

3

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: genre, structure, form

Epistolary--letters from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the vents leading up to meeting his wife. Letters are long.

4

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: the hall itself

An Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years. A mysterious young widow arrives, who assumes the name Helen Graham.

5

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Helen Graham

alias Helen Graham (Graham is her mother's maiden name), the tenant of the title. Wildfell Hall is the place where she and her brother were born. After their mother's death she goes to live with their aunt and uncle at Staningley Manor, while her brother, Frederick, remains with their father. In spite of their separation Helen has maintained an affectionate relationship with her brother and later he helps her to escape from her abusive and dissolute husband. The character of Helen Graham was probably inspired by Anna Isabella Milbanke, the wife of George Byron. Like Anna, Helen firstly believed that reforming her husband's behaviour was her religious obligation. Despite disillusionment, both women retained their Universalist faith.

6

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Master Arthur Huntingdon

five years old at the beginning of the book, the son of Arthur Huntingdon and Helen. He has a resemblance to his uncle, Frederick, which gives rise to gossip. He is grown up by the time of Gilbert's letter to Jack Halford, and is residing at Grassdale Manor with his wife, Helen Hattersley (the daughter of Milicent Hargrave and Ralph Hattersley).

7

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Mr Maxwell

Helen's wealthy uncle, dies near the end of the novel and leaves Staningley to Helen.

8

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Peggy Maxwell

Helen's aunt, tries to warn her against marrying Huntingdon. She dies several years after Helen's and Gilbert's marriage.

9

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Frederick Lawrence

Helen's brother, helps her to escape from Huntingdon and lends her money. As he and Helen grew up apart and probably never visited each other before her first marriage, no one in Linden-Car village guessed that the secretive Mrs. Graham is actually Frederick's sister. Eventually he marries Esther Hargrave. Being in mourning for her husband, Helen is forced to miss her brother's wedding.

10

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Arthur Huntingdon

Helen's abusive and alcoholic husband, is a Byronic figure of great fascination but also of barely concealed moral failings. His abusive behaviour impels Helen to run away from him, but nevertheless when he becomes ill (after falling from his horse when drunk and injuring his leg badly), Helen returns to Grassdale to take care of him. Unwilling to stop drinking alcohol, Huntingdon deteriorates in health and eventually dies. He is widely thought to be loosely based on the author's brother, Branwell, but some critics have argued that, apart from their masses of red hair, they have little in common. Along with Lord Lowborough, Huntingdon bears far stronger resemblance to two types of drunkards outlined in Robert Macnish's The Anatomy of Drunkenness.

11

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Branwell Bronte

Thought to be the basis of dissolute Arthur Huntingdon (they both have masses of red hair). Causes some offense w sisters

12

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Annabella Wilmot

later Lady Lowborough, Arthur Huntingdon's paramour, is flirtatious, bold and exquisitely beautiful. She has an affair with Arthur Huntingdon for several years. Helen ignores the affair, but when Annabella's husband discovers it, he divorces her. Gilbert says he hears that after Annabella moves to the continent, she falls into poverty and dies destitute and alone, but stresses he cannot be sure if this is true or merely a rumour.

13

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Lord Lowborough

friend of Huntingdon's and Anabella's husband, is apathetic but devoted. Melancholic, dour and gloomy, he is in complete contrast to Huntingdon. He used to gamble and drink too much alcohol and developed an addiction to opium, but after his financial ruin gradually reforms himself. Lowborough truly loves Annabella, and her infidelity brings him such suffering that only his Christian faith and strong will keep him from suicide. Later he divorces her and after some time marries a plain middle-aged woman, who makes a good wife to him and a stepmother to his children with Annabella — a son and a nominal daughter. Lord Lowborough also has some resemblances to Branwell, such as a life of debauchery, periods of remorse/religious torments, and opium, as well as moral weakness

14

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Ralph Hattersley

a friend of Huntingdon's, marries Milicent because he wants a quiet wife who will let him do what he likes with no word of reproach or complaint. He mistreats his wife. "I sometimes think she has no feeling at all; and then I go on until she cries – and that satisfies me," he tells Helen. But after he reforms himself he becomes a loving husband and father.

15

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Mr Grimsby

another of Arthur's friends, is a misogynist. He helps Arthur to conceal his affair with Annabella.

16

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Gilbert Markham

a twenty-four-year-old farmer, is the principal narrator in the novel. He exhibits jealousy, moodiness, and anger, but during the course of the novel he grows morally and proves to be worthy of Helen.

17

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Gilbert Markham

a twenty-four-year-old farmer, is the principal narrator in the novel. He exhibits jealousy, moodiness, and anger, but during the course of the novel he grows morally and proves to be worthy of Helen. **Has strong physical appetites like Arthur; uses Helen's private diary to pay off a sort of debt to his friend, referring to it as treasure or payment

18

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: alcoholism

Arthur Huntingdon and most of his male friends are heavy drinkers. Lord Lowborough is "the drunkard by necessity" "whom misfortune has overtaken, and who, instead of bearing up manfully against it, endeavors to drown his sorrows in liquor". Arthur, however, is the "drunkard from excess of indulgence in youth". Only Ralph Hattersley, husband of the meek Milicent, whom he mistreats, and Lord Lowborough reform their lives. Helen's undesirable admirer Walter Hargrave has never been such a heavy drinker as Arthur and his friends, and he indicates this to her in an attempt to win her favour. Arthur and Lord Lowborough particularly seem affected by the traditional signs of alcoholism.[10] They frequently drink themselves into incoherence and on awakening they drink again to feel better. Lord Lowborough understands that he has a problem and, with willpower and strenuous effort, overcomes his addiction. Arthur continues drinking even after he injures himself falling from a horse, which eventually leads to his death. Ralph, although he drinks heavily with his friends, does not seem to be as much afflicted by alcoholism as by his way of life. Mr Grimsby continues his degradation, going from bad to worse and eventually dying in a brawl. Huntingdon's son Arthur becomes addicted to alcohol through his father's efforts, but Helen begins to add to his wine a small quantity of tartar emetic, "just enough to produce inevitable nausea and depression without positive sickness". Very soon the boy begins to be made to feel ill by the very smell of alcohol.

19

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: gender relations (in general)

Gilbert's mother, Mrs Markham, holds the doctrine prevailing at the time that it is "the husband's business to please himself, and hers [i.e. the wife's] to please him". The portrayal of Helen, courageous and independent, emphasises her capacity for seeking autonomy rather than submitting to male authority, and the corrective role of women in relation to men. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is thus considered a feminist novel by many critics.

20

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: displacement

The Tenant features numerous allusions to a wide range of other texts, from the Bible to contemporary novels. Apart from being used as a quotation, allusions are often applied by peculiar characters to reflect their personalities. Sometimes the individual voices of characters are shown as a patchwork of quotations. Such "borrowed voices" denote the displacement of the main heroes[1] – Gilbert, being a well-educated man with high ambitions for some "great achievements", is forced to take over his father’s farm, and Helen, being a runaway wife, can call neither her home nor her name her own.[2] Josephine McDonagh believes that the theme of displacement is underlined by the title of the novel: Helen is tenant, not an owner-occupier, of Wildfell Hall, the place of her birth, which was bequeathed to a male descendant, her brother. The emphasis on allusion in the novel, on using the language of others, according to McDonagh, may be a reflection on the position of being a tenant, which in its subjugation is similar to that of being a wife.[1]

21

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: marriage (generally)

Until the passing of the Married Women's Property Act in 1870 a wife had no independent existence under English law, and therefore no right to own property or to enter into contracts separately from her husband, or to sue for divorce, or for the control and custody of her children.[1] Helen is misled by ideas of romantic love and duty into the delusion that she can repair her husband's conduct.[10] Hattersley declares that he wants a pliant wife who will not interfere with his fun, but the truth is that he really wants quite the opposite. Milicent cannot resist her mother's pressure, so she marries Ralph against her will. Wealthy Annabella wants only a title, while Lord Lowborough truly and devotedly loves her. The social climber Jane Wilson seeks wealth.

22

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: marriage (generally)

Until the passing of the Married Women's Property Act in 1870 a wife had no independent existence under English law, and therefore no right to own property or to enter into contracts separately from her husband, or to sue for divorce, or for the control and custody of her children.[1] Helen is misled by ideas of romantic love and duty into the delusion that she can repair her husband's conduct.[10] Hattersley declares that he wants a pliant wife who will not interfere with his fun, but the truth is that he really wants quite the opposite. Milicent cannot resist her mother's pressure, so she marries Ralph against her will. Wealthy Annabella wants only a title, while Lord Lowborough truly and devotedly loves her. The social climber Jane Wilson seeks wealth.

23

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Woman artists

Helen's artistic ability plays a central role in her relationships with both Gilbert and Arthur. Her alternating freedom to paint and inability to do so on her own terms not only complicate Helen's definition as wife, widow and artist, but also enable Anne Brontë to criticize the domestic sphere as established by marriage and re-established with remarriage.[11]

At the beginning of her diary the young and unmarried Helen already defines herself as an artist. She writes that her drawing "suits me best, for I can draw and think at the same time". Her early drawings reveal her private and true feelings for Arthur Huntingdon, feelings that lead her to overlook his true character and lose herself to marriage. Nevertheless, in addition to revealing Helen's true desires, the self-expression of her artwork also defines her as an artist. That she puts so much of herself into her paintings and drawings attests to this self-definition.[11]

24

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: theme?

Futility of the woman's lot in Victorian England. Criticism of marriage.

25

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: plight of married women before the Married Women's Property Act of 1870

Before 1870, any money made by a woman either through a wage, from investment, by gift, or through inheritance automatically became the property of her husband once she was married. Thus, the identity of the wife became legally absorbed into that of her husband, effectively making them one person under the law.

26

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: when do women get property rights?

Married Women's Property Act of 1870

27

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: what is the Married Women's Property Act of 1870?

an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that allowed married women to be the legal owners of the money they earned and to inherit property.

28

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: realism

Harshly realistic and unidealized portrait of marriage in Victorian England; introduce DISSENTIENT REALISM

29

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: DISSENTIENT REALISM cousin texts

Cf. DISSENTIENT QUIETISM (in Julian of Norwich) and DISSENTIENT POPULISM (in Philis Wheatley)

30

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: DISSENTIENT REALISM

Discuss Aaron Matz's breakdown. Discuss contemporary reactions to it Tenant--how they wanted to condemn it but how many are prevented, probably due to one of the most common readings of the book--i.e. that Helen's marriage to Gilbert ultimately saves the book from being a satire against marriage, instead making it a critique of alcoholism, a much more acceptable target. Then discuss Gilbert's similarities with Arthur, and show how the idealism strains against the novel's prior realism.

31

Tenant of Wildfell Hall: satire, realism, aaron matz

In his book, Satire in an Age of Realism, Aaron Matz differentiates between satire, which “exists to isolate a condition or a sector of human life and hold it up for ridicule,” and realism, which “in its nineteenth-century literary sense, is a method or an attitude seeking to represent experience, especially everyday experience, without implausibility” (ix).