The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

by

Anne Brontë

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One beautiful day Gilbert is out in his cornfields, ready to begin reaping, when little Arthur approaches him and tells him that his mother needs to talk to him. Gilbert tries to excuse himself, but then Helen herself appears and coaxes him into a nearby field. She is obviously nervous and anxious, and asks Gilbert why he did not meet her a few days before to hear her explanation of why they had to remain friends and nothing more. Gilbert is sarcastic and cutting with her and she leaves, deeming him unworthy of her confidence and vowing never to tell him.
This time the weather is mocking Gilbert’s suffering. It is beautiful; Gilbert is depressed. Work is not proving enough of a distraction from his pain. Little Arthur’s appearance provides some solace, though, giving him a chance to confront Helen and take his pain out on her. Helen does not accept his poor treatment of her, however. She is, as Mrs. Markham pointed out, not like other women.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Work and Idleness Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Gilbert is pleased with himself at first for torturing her as a cat would a mouse, but he begins to regret not hearing her explanation, and so walks to Wildfell Hall in the hopes of drawing out her confidence. Helen is angry and hurt and refuses him. She wants to know why he has changed his mind and now believes, like the rest of the village, the worst of her. Gilbert tells her about seeing her in the garden with Mr. Lawrence. Helen grows excited upon hearing his story, and places a large volume in his hands. She says that the book will tell him everything he needs to know. Full of curiosity, Gilbert takes the book home and immediately begins to read.
Now, instead of Eliza Millward being the cat, Gilbert is, and Helen is his helpless victim. That he would take pleasure in tormenting her proves both the intensity of Gilbert’s feelings and his immature willingness to be cruel in the face of rejection. Meanwhile, the reader and Gilbert are finally about to get Helen’s side of the story, meaning that the novel has an additional narrative layer. It is now not made up only of letters from Gilbert to Jack, but of Helen’s diary as transcribed in those letters.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon