The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

by

Anne Brontë

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Helen gets through breakfast and is cool and collected in all of her dealings with her guests. She’s not sure, though, how she will get through the 12 days left in their visit, or how she will abide her future life with Arthur. She freely admits now that she hates him. She wishes only that he could see for himself how depraved he is; then he might be punished enough for the crime of robbing her of her innocence.
Helen’s eyes have been opened to the realities of the world. Arthur has, indeed, robbed her of her innocence, and her diary is in this regard a coming of age tale. The eighteen-year-old who dreamed of saving Arthur from himself is gone, and a mature woman has taken her place.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Christian Faith and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Work and Idleness Theme Icon
Helen decides to distract herself from her anger and resentment by writing more in her diary about the daily minutia of life with her house guests. Walter Hargrave continues to treat her to kind attentions, and she continues to spurn him. At one point, Helen is alone in a room with Milicent and Annabella, and the latter engages Helen in a superficial conversation. Helen puts a stop to it by writing Annabella a note informing her that she knows everything that is going on between her and her husband. Annabella reads the note and requests a conference with Helen. Annabella then begs Helen not to tell Lord Lowborough or Milicent about the affair. Helen agrees because she doesn’t want to upset Annabella’s husband or her cousin. Helen then asks Annabella to leave her house as soon as possible.
As is the case in Linden-Car with Eliza Millward and Jane Wilson, woman is pitted against woman, and Lord Lowborough is doubly deceived. Annabella betrays no remorse. She is only concerned about the consequences of getting caught, which would mean the end of her marriage and a loss of prestige. In that way, her reaction mimics Arthur’s. He showed no guilt when Helen confronted him, but only worries about petty gossip and how he would be judged by others.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Annabella says she can’t possibly leave early without exciting suspicion, and so she is to stay for the remainder of the time allotted for the visit. Helen treats her with civility and nothing more.
Helen has no agency or power. Good manners and the status quo mean she must now put up with housing her husband’s mistress. She is a prisoner in her own home.
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Work and Idleness Theme Icon