The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall


Anne Brontë

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Themes and Colors
Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards Theme Icon
Christian Faith and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Work and Idleness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender, Sexism, and Double Standards

The first half of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall consists of Gilbert Markham’s letters to his brother-in-law, Jack Halford, in which he chronicles his daily life in the country village of Linden-Car, while the second half is largely made up of Helen Graham’s diary. The bulk of Helen’s entries concern her tumultuous marriage to the libertine Arthur Huntingdon. The effect of this split narrative is that the lessons contained in Helen’s…

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Christian Faith and Morality

Helen Graham is a devout Christian, and strives to live her life according to Biblical principles. Her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon tests both her faith and her resolve to be good in the face of evil. Even as Arthur mocks her piety, and her own unhappiness suggests to her that the institution of marriage might at times prove a prison, she remains true to the Christian tenets of charity and forgiveness, and in the end…

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Love and Marriage

Helen makes a tragic choice when she marries Arthur Huntingdon—a decision based on infatuation rather than logic. But Helen is not the only character who throws herself away on an unworthy partner; time and time again in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, young people commit themselves to impractical and ultimately destructive relationships that rob them of years of peace and tranquility. Older and wiser people like Helen’s aunt, Mrs. Maxwell, understand the…

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Work and Idleness

Helen gives credit to God for helping her survive the soul-crushing ordeal that is her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon, but she is able to leave Grassdale Manor and her abusive husband behind thanks to the paintings she sells to a London art dealer. Later, at Wildfell Hall, she supports herself and little Arthur with the proceeds from her art, and hard work helps soothe her frayed nerves. As an upper-class woman able to support…

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