The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

by

Anne Brontë

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Painting Symbol Icon

Helen’s work as a painter serves as both a figurative and literal escape for her, and her work likewise represents her evolution from naïve young girl to mature woman. Forced to keep company with Arthur’s drunken friends, she often flees them in order to paint, and when she finally gathers the courage necessary to leave Arthur, she supports herself and her son with the proceeds she makes from selling her paintings. One can also trace Helen’s personal and emotional journey through her art. As an infatuated 18-year-old, Helen sketches Arthur Huntingdon’s handsome portrait. She also dedicates much of her time to a depiction of two lovesick turtledoves. Later, at Wildfell Hall, she turns to landscapes, and it is in her studies of the natural world that she reveals not only her growing mastery as a painter but her inner self. One of the paintings Gilbert most admires is a scene of bare trees that themselves symbolize Helen’s suffering and loneliness. She knows pain and thwarted desire firsthand, and is therefore able to paint the trees with precision and feeling.

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Painting Symbol Timeline in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The timeline below shows where the symbol Painting appears in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5. The Studio
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...Rose pay their promised visit to Wildfell Hall and find Helen in the middle of painting a landscape. Little Arthur informs Gilbert and Rose that Helen sells her paintings through a... (full context)
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
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Gilbert glances through the paintings stacked along the studio wall, finding one that is clearly of little Arthur as a... (full context)
Chapter 6. Progression
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On a clear day in March, Gilbert finds Helen painting on the edge of a brook. He admires her skill with winter trees for some... (full context)
Chapter 7. The Excursion
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...they discussed some days earlier when he and Rose visited her studio.  She longs to paint it. Overhearing her, Rose suggests they all make the journey together, and while Helen obviously... (full context)
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...himself near Eliza Millward and separated from Helen Graham, who later leaves the party to paint the sea. Gilbert grows so weary with Eliza’s empty flirtatiousness that he goes in search... (full context)
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Helen ignores Gilbert for the most part and focuses on her painting, but she does consult him on a detail, and even goes so far as to... (full context)
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...consumed with guilt. Once back at Wildfell Hall, he offers to help Helen cart her painting supplies to her studio. She refuses his help, but in such a warm way he... (full context)
Chapter 8. The Present
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...in the garden. He asks if he might see the progress she’s made of her painting of the bay they recently visited with their friends. She happily obliges, and Gilbert finds... (full context)
Chapter 9. A Snake in the Grass
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...the beauty of the evening and discuss for a time the pitfalls of being a painter. Helen wishes she could look on such a scene with pure enjoyment rather than considering... (full context)
Chapter 11. The Vicar Again
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...reminds him of their visit to Helen’s studio, when Helen admitted that she signs her paintings with false initials and gives them misleading names so that former acquaintances will not be... (full context)
Chapter 16. The Warnings of Experience
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...spoiled country living for Helen. She is restless and bored, and finds consolation only in painting and in her own thoughts and memories. (full context)
Chapter 17. Further Warnings
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...two flirt all through dinner and afterwards, when the whole party has adjourned to the drawing room, Annabella does her best to monopolize Mr. Huntingdon’s attention. Helen, stuck in a corner... (full context)
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...discomfort by Mr. Huntingdon, who begs her to come with him to look at a painting. (full context)
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Helen happily agrees, and finds that Mr. Huntingdon cares very little about the painting, a striking Vandyke. He hoped only to get her away from Mr. Wilmot, whose attentions... (full context)
Chapter 18. The Miniature
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...of Mr. Huntingdon. On his first night at the Maxwells’, Mr. Huntingdon happens upon a drawing of Helen’s, the back of which contains a likeness of him. Much to Helen’s humiliation,... (full context)
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Helen takes the morning to work on a new painting. The piece is, in her mind, her most presumptuous. It is of a sunny morning... (full context)
Chapter 39. A Scheme of Escape
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...mind, Helen begins to form a plan for their independence. Her hope is to begin painting again and find a dealer she can sell her work to. She’ll ask Rachel to... (full context)
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...leave Grassdale, and she spends the rest of the day hard at work on her painting. Later, she acquaints Rachel with her plan, and Rachel vows to accompany Helen and little... (full context)
Chapter 40. A Misadventure
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One night, while Helen and Arthur are in the drawing room together, he grabs her diary from her and begins to read it. She tries... (full context)
Chapter 44. The Retreat
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...weeks’ stay at Wildfell. Frederick has helped her furnish the rooms and provides her with painting supplies. They all get settled in their new home, and the only two dark spots... (full context)
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The painting of Arthur pains Helen, as it reminds her of her folly in falling in love... (full context)