European Literature Society: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

As well as eating the greatest Victoria sponge cake ever made (thank you Maggie), we discussed this week how we felt about the novel’s protagonist – a man called Gilbert Markham, who was written by a woman (Anne Bronte), under a man’s name (Acton Bell), telling the story of a woman – the mysterious Helen Graham. It’s quite a lot to disentangle: how are we meant to feel about Gilbert Markham? Do we empathise with him? And is he really in love with Helen Graham? And should he be? Or is he merely romanticising her?

Do we agree with Gilbert Markham, when he says:

“There is such a thing as looking through a person’s eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another’s soul in one hour than it might take you a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it.” 

Mr Ahern