The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

by

Anne Brontë

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Gilbert has been making life at home a torment for his mother and siblings. His wrath has particularly focused on Fergus, who, jokingly singing a love ballad for Gilbert’s amusement, gets thrown against the wall for his trouble. Mrs. Markham lectures Gilbert on the need to be more pleasant and, while he is largely unmoved, he decides to devote himself to his work as a farmer in the hopes of taking his mind off his broken heart. To that end, he heads to the Wilson farm to speak to Robert about purchasing a plot of land from him.
Fergus, ever idle, teases Gilbert about his broken heart. Gilbert at least has work to take his mind off Helen and what he assumes to be her affair with Mr. Lawrence. The very land Gilbert resented at the beginning of the book for depriving him of a chance to pursue a different line of work is now his greatest comfort.
Themes
Work and Idleness Theme Icon
Gilbert finds not Robert but Jane Wilson and Eliza Millward. Eliza, still jealous, asks Gilbert if he has seen Helen Graham lately. Jane begs her not to mention that unfortunate person’s name in her presence. Gilbert is disgusted by their malice, but is determined to remain calm. Eventually Robert appears, and the two men agree to the sale of the property. Gilbert takes his leave and heads for his own cornfields, only to find little Arthur and Helen Graham walking there. Upon seeing them, he reverses direction. When Arthur calls out to Gilbert to wait, Gilbert only walks faster, determined never to talk to Helen again.
Gilbert was obviously completely deceived regarding Eliza, but he had judged Jane Wilson correctly. The two women are shallow and petty and make Helen the target of their cattiness. As usual, Gilbert’s disgust with their behavior does not extend to himself. He now believes the rumors about little Arthur’s illegitimacy, but excuses his own suspicion of Helen because it is founded on what he saw with his own eyes. Also, he is a man and therefore assumed to be a better judge of all things.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
The chance encounter with Helen leaves Gilbert miserable for the rest of the day. He concludes that his infatuation is of a deeper nature than he first thought, and that it might take some time and trouble to get over it.
Gilbert has allowed himself to fall in love with Helen, even though he was warned against such a course of action by a number of parties, including Helen herself.
Themes
Love and Marriage Theme Icon