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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
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2017 > The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Week Four

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Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
Helen's marriages continues to devolve as Arthur descends further into drunkenness and abuse, and she forms a plan to take her son and escape.


Piyangie Helen's resolution to flee with her son is something of a bold step for a woman of her era. Women were mere possession of their husbands according to the law of the land at the time, and I believe if found, could be charged under the law. In such a surrounding, Anne makes her heroine bold enough to take any risk necessary to protect her son from wrong influence.


message 3: by Marie (last edited May 27, 2017 08:25PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
Women could technically leave, of course you were finished socially, but it was near next to impossible for a woman to file for divorce, and usually they wouldn't be granted even with legal grounds. Obviously when divorce was at the discretion of the church, rather than civil contract. The children were the property of the estate, so it was kid napping for the mother to take them. It was Caroline Norton ( the woman British prime minister Lord Melbourne was tried for adultery with) who finally had the law changed after her children were taken away for leaving her abusive husband. After the laws were altered in1839, he took the children and hid them in Scotland, where the laws didn't apply, to punish her for embarrassing him. She was the leader of the movement for civil divorce as well.

Either way, it was incredible for Anne Bronte to include it in her novel at the time, in spite of public opinion.


Piyangie Thanks for the informative comment, Marie. I knew Ms. Norton in relation to Melbourne scandal but did not know of her prominent role in reforming the law. After I read your comment, I read up on her. Such a brave woman she has been despite her suffering.


Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Thanks for the informative comment, Marie. I knew Ms. Norton in relation to Melbourne scandal but did not know of her prominent role in reforming the law. After I read your comment, I read up on he..."

Yes, Caroline Norton is a favorite of mine. It's such a shame she's not talked about more in the women's rights movement.


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