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Thread: I felt like starting a new thread on this novel :D

  1. #1
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Saarburg, Germany

    I felt like starting a new thread on this novel :D

    This book has stayed in my mind for about two weeks now. It had something, although it was very conventional in its set-up. I see why Anne is the forgotten sister of the three Brontės, because her style is good, but she just doesn't have the depth of either Charlotte or Emily, nor has she got their originality (which Emily is certainly the best at).

    Still, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall she wrote something that was definitely compelling and taboo-busting (if that word exists).

    I suppose, though, that Mr Gilbert Markham is slightly efeminate for a 19th century man, and certainly a farmer of the era. I can't help thinking he would be a hit with the ladies because he is sensitive and likes reading stuff and dicussing it. Wordsworth . So was Rochester, though, he liked music and singing, not really male activities. Anyway, so they are both forerunners of 'the new man' from the 90s.

    I love the animosity that starts Gilbert and Helen's relationship. It's a bit cute and it's a cliché that was already tried by Austen. It's a shame Anne didn't allow it more time before she starts the diary.

    But Arthur Huntingdon is something else. Even in the very first chapters, you can recognise a budding abuser, and it is all the more dificult to read if you know what is going to happen later. A reader almost gets angry at Helen's romantic naļvety.
    The aunt, I believe, has to serve as a kind of more experienced mother figure who knows very well why Helen should not marry this man, so she tries very hard, almost entreats her without wanting to be indiscrete about Helen's uncle, to reject Huntingdon. But it is not to be, uncle doesn't listen to his wife, old Lawrence obviously doesn't care much and Helen does not listen to her aunt. (Although Helen's aunt was defnitely wrong about Lord Lowborough who is a kind of less tragic Rochester-figure who reforms because of love after one mistake).

    The way in which the men are symbolised in their carriages when they arrive for Helen's uncle's shooting party is kind of cute.

    From the other side, young Helen Lawrence (as it turns out) tends to be a little vain and Huntingdon tickles that vanity, in opposition to Mr Borham (what's in a name?) of whom it can at least be said that he likes to hear himself talk. So, in a way, it's a bit her own fault for fancying that her own judgment is always right.

    In a 19th century context, it must indeed have been pretty much taboo to leave your husband, even if he was a pig and messing up your child, but where Helen really shines is the self-sacrifice she makes in going to help him who hurt her so much It's a bit of a double feeling as she tells in her letters of his slow descent to death. A reader starts to feel sorry. Not because he has become a good man or is even sorry for his deeds, but because he is so weak-willed he doesn't even make an effort to reform (uunlike his two friends Hattersley and Lowborough). He is lost as a man, maybe even doomed (who knows) because he just can't be a**ed to do anything about it. Anger of before makes place for pitty in disdain.

    In terms of the three Brontė Byronic Heroes, Huntingdon, Rochester and Heathcliffe, Heathcliffe is the most authentic. He is mad, bad and out of controlled and is convinced of his ways, like Byron himself and his heroes. Rochester is also mad, bad and out of control at some point (we catch him after this), but is strong enough to reform and becomes acceptable as a man. Huntingdon I personally find a spoilt child who has never learnt what 'no' means. Obviously also Anne's view as Helen's main argument for disappearing with her son is not her own safety or unhappiness, but her son's life. She wants him not waste his life on pleasure. He is not really a Byronic hero, I don't think, or not a strong one. He is a misguided individual who lacked proper parental authority at one point.

    I found the discussion in favour of giving a five-year old child alcohol very poignant in today's context...

    The end was very classic and had been done before (no-yes-no-yes). Still, it was exciting.

    I felt, in terms of style, Anne Brontė was trying very hard to be good and went over the top. Her sisters wrote with more ease. It wasn't sublime sumptuous prose like Wilde, but it was trying to be that. Didn't quite work out, although some of the things were very very nice to read.

    Any thoughts, fans?
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'āme ne se vide ą ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scčne VII)

  2. #2
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Reading, England
    Maybe I shall read it one day, but my reading list is so long it may be some time. I have a personal theory that even a not very good book can be interesting if the author writes about their world and that world is much different to yours. That's not to say The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is not a very good book. If it has stuck in your mind for two weeks it must have something going for it.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  3. #3
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    Sep 2018
    I loved this book! I would have a tradition where I'd wake up at sunrise to read this book and eat chocolate. I found it more moving than Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and was glad it did not contain the melodrama of those two.

    I understand that she was less original than her sisters, but would that mean that (if people had heard of her), she would be the middle ground for those who don't like Charlotte or Emily's novels?

    Anyone would has read "Agnes Gray" as their first Anne Bronte book will probably be disappointed and not bother with this one, but they are missing out! "Agnes Gray" is sweet, innocent and not particularly deep, whilst "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is dusky, romance-charged and almost sinister... yet pure and hopeful at the same time.

    The technique of writing in the style of diary entries, although popular at the time, feels inferior to an exterieur narrative voice as no one remembers then copies down entire converations. Perhaps in using letters and diary extracts, Anne Bronte was simply trying new narrative methods.

    Although the rivality between Helen and Gilbert is interesting, I fear that readers may simply have become frustrated at Helen if that had been continued any longer (as I was already becoming).

    The characters were well drawn-out and complementary and I loved the way Anne was able to add humour into even the darker scenes, such as when Grimsby tries to persuade Helen that he is not so far-gone as the others in terms of drink. The book also really makes one consider how lonely women were. Helen only had two friends she could see regularly and in seeing Milicent, she also had to put up with Annabella's company.

  4. #4
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Reading, England
    thought it was good on the whole. A lot of the drunkeness and bad behaviour seemed too realistic to have been invented. I wondered where Anne Brontė witnessed it. I knew Branwell was bad, but not that bad. There were other good bits, like Gilbert's assault, and the death scene. Some bits were not so good, like the wish fulfilment at the end
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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