The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Oxford University Press
Bronte, Charlotte, Anne and Emily
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Introduction, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall


In `The Tenant of Wild fell Hall` Anne Bronte wished to `tell the truth, for the truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it`. Anne Bronte`s second novel seemed to many contemporary readers shockingly unlike her first, `Agnes Grey`, published in the previous year. There, Charlotte Bronte had admired her sister`s `quiet description and simple pathos`, but she was disturbed by `The Tenant of Wildfell Hall`, which reminded reviewers of `Wuthering Heights`: it was, in spiteof its `excellent moral`, `coarse, not to say brutal`. For Anne`s heroine, Helen Huntingdon, having endured too many of the `revolting scenes` deplored by reviewers, leaves her dissolute husband in order to earn her own living and rescue her son from hisinfluence. A passionate and courageous challenge to the conventions supposedly upheld by Victorian society and reflected in circulating-library fiction, `The Tenant of Wildfell Hall` is compelling in its imaginative power,...

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