Fiction, Opinion, Uncategorized

When We Last Visited Wildfell Hall

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To take a much-needed break from my studies and the constant editing tasks of policy writing, I spent the weekend reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Brontë, 1848). For those who may have missed the talents of Ms. Brontë and opted instead for Jane Eyre, please visit this literary treasure.  There’s a free copy on the right sidebar for your pleasure or you can download it from Google Books ( ). Thank you, Google

The strangest quotes have come from the critics of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Regarding the writer’s creativity the book Britannia wrote, “The work is strangely original. It reminds us of Jane Eyre.” Douglas Jerrold wrote, “We strongly recommend all our readers who love novelty get this story, for we can promise them they never read anything like it before. It is like Jane Eyre. How strange, I thought, that critics would proclaim a book original and follow-up with a declaration of it similarity to another novel. Both books were edited by Currer Bell and of course if you’re up on your literary history, you’re aware the authors are sister’s but in my opinion, that’s where the comparison end. Jane Eyre was certainly a suitable story but it pales in comparison to the novelty (for the period) of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’d be interested in knowing if anyone feels the same.


Anne Brontë’s  novel is a passionate and courageous challenge to the conventions supposedly upheld by Victorian society and reflected in circulating-library fiction. The heroine, Helen Huntingdon, after a short period of initial happiness, leaves her dissolute husband, and must earn her own living to rescue her son from his influence. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is compelling in its imaginative power, the realism and range of its dialogue, and its psychological insight into the characters involved in a marital battle (Google, 1998).
I believe what appealed to me in this book was the main character’s discipline when faced with the possibility of true happiness versus the need to return to an unhappy pass in order to be with her son.
My question is this, would you return to a painful past or a bad relationship out of a sense of moral or family obligation? To level the scope, let’s alleviate the existence of children from the discussion. Under what obligation would you revisit a painful past?

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