The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

by

Anne Brontë

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Chapter 46 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Gilbert wishes he could enlighten his mother and sister to Helen’s true character, but it is not in his power to do so. He worries that if Eliza Millward were to know the truth, she would contact Arthur Huntingdon at once and inform him of Helen’s whereabouts. The separation from Helen wears on Gilbert’s nerves and mind. He becomes misanthropic and irritable with everyone, wanting only the society of his mother and Frederick Lawrence. The latter he visits as often as he can. He grows to like Helen’s brother a great deal, partially because he resembles Helen and his company gives him a chance to talk about her.
The village of Linden-Car is still largely in the dark about Helen’s past. Their preconceived notions about her are very much in error, but Gilbert is not in a place to enlighten them. He knows that the jealous and vindictive Eliza Millward will do what she can to make Helen’s life harder, and his main comfort at this juncture is his friendship with Frederick Lawrence. 
Themes
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Frederick tells Gilbert that he has been to see Helen and that, while she is not yet cheerful, she is working hard to forget him. She is also making plans to move, and Frederick is assisting her as much he can. Gilbert suspects that Helen does not want to forget him. He cannot forget her, nor does he want to. A little more than a week later, Gilbert meets Frederick returning from a visit to the Wilsons, and he decides to do his friend a good turn by warning him against forming any serious designs on Jane.
Gilbert’s desire to keep his friend from making a disastrous marriage to Jane Wilson—who, as a greedy and beautiful fortune hunter, shares much in common with Annabella—shows his growing attachment to Frederick. He now likes the man for himself, not just for his ties to Helen, and wants to save him unnecessary hardship.
Themes
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Frederick is offended at first, both by Gilbert’s presumption and then by the charges Gilbert lays against Jane. Gilbert informs Frederick that Jane hates Helen, and that she and Eliza Millward worked together to spread the nasty rumors about Frederick and Helen being a couple and the parents to little Arthur. Frederick is incredulous at first, but over time, Gilbert sees the young man’s attachment lessening. Gilbert concludes that he probably sought other people’s opinions of Jane as a way to corroborate Gilbert’s assessment of her. Eventually, Gilbert learns that Frederick has given her up, and he is glad for his friend. Jane, however, is very bitter and angry.
Gilbert’s attempts to warn Frederick against marrying Jane Wilson mirror Mrs. Maxwell’s efforts to keep Helen from marrying Arthur Huntingdon, as well as Helen’s advice to Esther Hargrave upon her return from her London season. They also contrast directly with Arthur Huntingdon’s decision not to inform Lord Lowborough of Annabella’s lack of affection for him. These similar situations are repeated throughout the book, with the ultimate lesson being that Christian marriage is for life, so one should enter it wisely.
Themes
Christian Faith and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon