thoughts on Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Ch. 15-28 (RBC discussion, SPOILERS)

(Here is a link to my post about the first 14 chapters of Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.)

This second section of the book is sooo interesting!! It’s during this section that we finally learn about Helen’s past. For the first 14-ish chapters we’re left completely wondering what happened in her past that led her to bring her small son and move into Wildfell Hall. The way that Helen behaves in relation to little Arthur leads us to believe that something happened in her past, probably with Arthur’s father (Mr. Arthur Huntingdon), that makes her want to protect him and not let him even have the chance to learn how to become another version of his father. But even within this grouping of chapters, some of my questions have been left quite unresolved. Such as: What happened between Helen and Mr. H to make her be a Mrs. Graham living in Wildfell Hall? Did he actually die? Did they divorce (heaven forbid for someone as pious as Helen)? Did she actually run away from him and “kidnap” little Arthur? This last possibility makes a little sense–Mrs. Graham could be a made up name and her reasoning for titling her paintings with different geographic locations could all indicate that she is trying to hide from Mr. H. But one of the greatest questions of all (for me at least) is, what does Mr. Lawrence have to do with any of this? Is he perhaps privvy to Helen’s schemes and helping her out?

One thing that I realized especially in this section is Helen’s regard towards Mr. H. Very close to the end of this section is when Helen is finally getting fed up with him, but before that I noticed a trend. Helen would start a diary entry being very mad at something Mr. H did, but by the end of the entry, she would’ve forgiven him because he promised to not do such things again. Now, this wouldn’t be bad if she didn’t always lament about how he can never be in earnest or speak seriously on any subjects. Wouldn’t you think that a person who knows someone else never is serious about what they say would know that they may not be truthful in their promises to stop doing “bad” things?? 😕 I would think Helen would’ve caught on to this. But she must have been completely blinded by love. And her thoughts that she could change Mr. H.

Which leads me to another point: marrying people that have faults when you think you can change them doesn’t always work! I know this from personal experience. My oldest aunt married her husband probably a little under 30 years ago. He’d been married before and surely had his faults (controlling/domineering is putting it lightly). But she was young, as far as her experience with men goes (she was in her later 20s), and she thought she could change him. But she couldn’t. And, while they’re not divorced or separated–she’s too “Christian” to give up on him (essentially her own words)–he lives in California and she lives in Ohio (that’s about 2000 miles). This has been the situation for about 6-7 years. So, thinking you can change someone only works if they’re somewhat willing to change.

And one last thing that I want to talk about is that I’m really liking Mr. H as a villain. Let me explain…I read a lot of Jane Austen–or reread, rather. I feel her villains are often very similar to each other. Now, I know the Bronte sisters are three different authors, and therefore their villains will be different. But I feel their stories are similar in a very general sense–with a woman wronged by the villain (that’s why he’s a villain!) But their villains are so different. Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) isn’t known to be bad until towards the ending, while Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)  is essentially bad right off. But Mr. H is in between. He’s not bad right off, at least not the way Helen sees him. But he’s certainly known to be bad before the ending. I just like that he’s different 🙂 Obviously I don’t care for his character.

I can’t wait to keep reading to find out the answers to my earlier questions!! 😀


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