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''The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'' (1848) was the second and last novel by the ''other'' Brontė sister, Creator/AnneBronte. Set in the 1820s, the novel tells the story of Helen Graham (really Helen Huntingdon), who takes up residence at the mostly-decayed Wildfell Hall under distinctly mysterious circumstances. Helen immediately captures the unwanted attention of the local villagers, many of them nasty gossips. More to the point, she attracts our male protagonist and narrator, Gilbert Markham, who (despite some misgivings) falls passionately in love with her. As Helen's diary reveals, however, there's an insuperable obstacle to any relationship with Gilbert: far from being a widow, she's still married.

The novel sold extremely well at first, a close second to ''Literature/JaneEyre'', but its bracing assault on both drunkenness and the sexual DoubleStandard earned it a scandalous reputation. Its plot and characters have often been taken as a sly TakeThat to both Creator/EmilyBronte's ''Literature/WutheringHeights'' and Creator/CharlotteBronte's ''Literature/JaneEyre'' (the latter of which was written at the same time as ''Tenant''). Despite its early popularity, the novel slipped into relative obscurity following Charlotte refusing to allow the novel to be reprinted in 1850 alongside ''Wuthering Heights'' and Anne's own much less popular ''Literature/AgnesGrey'', deeming the work to be "[[CanonDiscontinuity an entire mistake.]]" Critics began to dismiss the book as well, believing it to be a mere manifestation of Anne's bitterness over her brother Branwell. Its frank treatment of sexuality and marital decay earned it more attention in later years.

The BBC has adapted it twice, most recently in 1996 with Tara Fitzgerald, Rupert Graves, and Toby Stephens in the leading roles.
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!!Tropes used:

* AbhorrentAdmirer: Mr. Boarham and Mr. Wilmot for Helen. Mr. Boarham is a particularly interesting case as he would probably have been a better husband for Helen than Huntingdon, but he's still entirely unappealing.
* AccidentalMarriage: Millicent writes to Helen that she honestly doesn't know ''how'' she ended up engaged to Mr. Hattersley.
* AddictionDisplacement: Lord Lowborough displaces his gambling addiction with alcoholism, before giving that up as well.
* TheAlcoholic: Arthur Huntingdon. It eventually kills him.
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Invoked and savaged. Helen's marriage to Arthur Huntingdon turns out to be an absolute nightmare. Helen manages to convince Millicent's husband, Hattersley, to reform, but his bad behavior had never been part of the attraction for Millicent, and Helen's contribution is no greater than what a modern marriage counselor would do.
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Emphasis on the anguish...
-->"One moment I stood and looked into her face, the next I held her to my heart, and we seemed to grow together in a close embrace from which no physical or mental force could rend us."
* ArcWords: Try to count how many times the word "prejudice" comes up in the first third of the story and the word "pride" in the last third. [[PrideAndPrejudice Interesting.]]
* ArrangedMarriage: Averted in theory, but Millicent's marriage to Mr. Hattersley looks like one in practice. She writes to Helen that she only said "maybe," but her mother has already started the wedding planning and it's too late now...
* BabiesEverAfter: Of the characters who have their conclusions told, the good ones are happily married with large families and the bad ones are either dead or miserably alone.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: Averted -- Mary Millward, arguably the most consistently moral character in this novel, is a "plain" woman with little in the way of physical attraction. Much to everyone's surprise, she is {{happily married}} by the end.
* BirdsOfAFeather: {{The Quiet One}}s Mary Millward and Richard Wilson.
* BigBrotherInstinct: One of the sharp contrasts between Huntingdon and Markham is how well Markham handles Arthur. He plays with Arthur, dotes on him without spoiling him, is protective of him, and defers to Helen's parenting choices, all things Huntingdon won't do.
* BigFancyHouse: Grassdale Manor. Wildfell Hall was this at one time, but has devolved into an OldDarkHouse. Or it would have if Anne were more like her sisters, but Wildfell Hall is just rundown and drafty and people are imaginative.
* ButNotTooEvil: Part of the novel's initial criticism came from the feeling that Anne's depictions of vice and depravity were ''too'' honest, accurate, and undisguised.
* ByronicHero: Unlike in the more famous novels of the other Brontė sisters, none of the men remotely qualify as this, but ''Helen'' does: mysterious, isolated, and haunted by a dark past and bad decisions of her youth. Her situation in fact bears strong resemblances to Mr. Rochester's in ''JaneEyre'' - [[spoiler: trying to get away from and move past a youthful and foolish marriage to an awful person, being a single parent, and facing the challenge of falling in love with a new person while still married]] - but her moral character is far superior.
* TheCasanova: Arthur Huntingdon, who brags to his wife about his sexual conquests.
* CharacterTitle[=/=]TheXOfY
* CoolOldLady: Rachel, who is so loyal to Helen that she helps Helen escape Grassdale.
* CrazyJealousGuy: Arthur Huntingdon.
* DeathEqualsRedemption: Helen cares for [[spoiler:Mr Huntingdon]] when he is ill, and urges him to mend his ways. He basically doesn't, until he's really about to die, and makes at least some strides towards redeeming himself in her eyes, at least partly spurred on by his fear of Hell. Assuming he's sincere, though he's probably not, it's almost a HeelFaceDoorSlam.
* DeconstructorFleet: Of AllGirlsWantBadBoys and related tropes that feature prominently in works such as ''Literature/WutheringHeights'' and ''Literature/JaneEyre''.
* DestructiveRomance: Helen and Huntingdon's marriage.
* DoesNotLikeMen: Helen's opinion of the male sex in general is dramatically lowered by her exposure to the worst of their kind during her marriage.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Both Gilbert himself and Mr. Hargrave have aspects of this.
* DomesticAbuse: A thorough examination of it, to the horror and fascination of the Victorian reading public.
* [[DudeWheresMyRespect Dude, Where's My Respect?]][=/=]TheLongList: Rose Markham has a moment where she snaps and rants at her mother for treating her like a slave and her brothers like princes.
* TheDutifulSon: Gilbert puts his dreams of having some glamorous higher calling aside to take over his late father's farm.
* EpiphanyTherapy: Helen gives some to Mr. Hattersley.
* {{Expy}}: Mr. Hargrave, Helen's stalker who insists he's her KnightInShiningArmor, bears a striking resemblance to [[MansfieldPark Henry Crawford]].
* ExtremeDoormat: Millicent Hattersley.
** Mrs. Markham (Gilbert's mother) has shades of this, which she tries to instill in her daughter -- that the duty of a wife is to serve her husband and the duty of a husband is to accept it. Gilbert, who is penning this to his brother-in-law, raises a literary eyebrow at that.
* FalseWidow: Helen's initial pose.
* FarmBoy: Gilbert -- he's about as happy in that role as [[Franchise/StarWars Luke]] was.
* FemalesAreMoreInnocent: This is constantly used as an argument as to why women need to be shielded from the vices of the world. Helen vehemently argues against this idea, knowing from experience that keeping women innocent will only set them up for future problems.
* FeminineWomenCanCook: Parodied. Helen shows no interest in the subject.
* TheFirstCutIsTheDeepest
* FirstNameBasis
* {{Foil}}: Lord Lowborough commiserates with Helen over their depressing marriages and mutual betrayal.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Helen writes that she wishes her husband had some trade or business to occupy his time as she concludes that living his life solely to indulge in idleness, luxury, and alcohol has contributed to his moral decay. She later falls in love with a hard-working (if reluctant) gentleman farmer, whose lower social class doesn't matter to her.
* FreudianSlip: We get a glimpse of Gilbert's ultimate regard for Eliza Millward when he describes her glances as occasionally diabolically... er.. "preternaturally" wicked.
* FramingDevice: Gilbert's letters frame Helen's diary.
* GoldDigger: Annabella Wilmot, later Lady Lowborough.
* GoneHorriblyRight:
** Helen tells Gilbert they absolutely cannot be together and that this parting better be the last. Unlike her last HopelessSuitor, Gilbert complies with her wishes... ''far too well'' for her, by the end.
** Likewise Mr. Hattersley complains that his wife is too passive and goes along with whatever he wants -- to which Helen points out that a docile, submissive wife is exactly what he said he wanted.
* TheHedonist: Arthur Huntingdon and his "friends."
* HeelFaceTurn: Mr Hattersley, after Helen gives him a DidYouThinkICantFeel speech on his wife's behalf.
* HonorBeforeReason: Helen, as her society unjustly demanded of all women.
* {{Hypocrite}}: Mr. Hargrave.
* ICanChangeMyBeloved: Helen enters into her marriage with Arthur looking forward to changing and redeeming him, only to end up thoroughly miserable. This is also played straight with her friend Millicent, who is miserable in her marriage, but whose husband is willing to change.
* [[ICantBelieveAGuyLikeYouWouldNoticeMe I Can't Believe a Girl Like You Would Notice Me]]: Gilbert feels this way after [[spoiler:Helen becomes a rich heiress upon her uncle's death]].
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy
* IdiotBall: Writing your escape plans in your journal while the last person in the world who should see them is ''in the same room'' isn't the smartest move (no matter how passed-out-drunk you think he is).
* ImAManICantHelpIt: Both Hargrave and Arthur Huntingdon try this excuse, not very successfully.
* InTheBlood: Helen's father and her husband were alcoholics, leading her and Frederick to fear for her son's susceptibility to the problem.
* InnocentBlueEyes: Subverted. Helen takes note of Huntingdon's blue eyes early on, but any symbolic innocence she reads in the color is a lie.
* JustFriends: Yeah, right...
* LikeBrotherAndSister: Gilbert and Helen (try to) look at their relationship this way at first.
* LovedINotHonorMore: Helen refuses to break her marriage vows, unless and until they conflict with her maternal duties.
* LoveHurts[=/=]LoveMakesYouCrazy: In typical Brontė tradition.
* LovingAShadow: Helen and Huntingdon both. Helen thought Huntingdon was a better man than he was and that she could change him. Huntingdon thought Helen would be more submissive and docile.
** Lowborough loves Annabella and practically worships her, even though she only married him for his title.
* LysistrataGambit: After catching her husband with [[spoiler: Lady Lowborough]], Helen tells Arthur point-blank that "we are husband and wife only in name."
* MaliciousSlander: Helen runs into this a lot, up to and including accusations that she's had her son out of wedlock.
* MamaBear: It's fear for her son, not for herself, that finally pushes Helen to escape.
* MaritalRapeLicense: Averted, by all appearances, in the book. Helen even refuses Huntingdon access to her bedroom, which shocked Victorian readers. The films aren't so merciful...
* MarryForLove: Helen and Millicent heartily stress this lesson to Millicent's sister Esther, unwilling to let her make the same mistakes they made. Oddly, the lesson is not "marry only for love" but "don't marry a man you dislike."
* MeaningfulName: Mr. Boarham, which Helen takes care to let us know is pronounced "Bore 'em." It's very appropriate.
** Mr. Grimsby, the only one of Huntingdon's friends who makes no efforts to reform.
* MommasBoy: Gilbert's mother spoils him rotten.
** And Gilbert accuses Helen of turning her son Arthur into one, all because she has trained him to dislike alcohol.
** Helen reports that Huntingdon's mother spoiled him thoroughly. Huntingdon seems to want Helen to emulate this behavior in their marriage. His jealousy towards his son certainly looks a lot like a jealous older sibling.
* MoralGuardians: Anne Bronte responded to some of these in the second edition.
** Within the novel, the Rev. Millward.
* MyBelovedSmother: Gilbert has one. People think Helen is one.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Helen's frequent lament to her journal as her marriage falls apart.
* MySisterIsOffLimits: In retrospect, Gilbert realizes that while Helen's brother actively did nothing to sabotage their relationship, he did nothing to help them as if he hoped they would drift apart on their own.
* NarrativeProfanityFilter: Helen's diary contains a lot of "G-d d--m" or "he said things which I will not repeat here."
* NotSoDifferent: Gilbert tried some of the same pick-up lines on Helen as her StalkerWithACrush Mr. Hargrave. Fortunately, unlike the latter (and like many a JaneAusten hero), Gilbert knows how to take "No" for an answer.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted. There are two Arthurs and two Helens.
* OopNorth: The main action takes places in "_____shire" probably Yorkshire.
* ParentalMarriageVeto: Generally averted, though often threatened.
* ParentalSubstitute: Helen is raised by her aunt and uncle.
* PetTheDog: In typical Brontė tradition, Gilbert is kind and playful with his dog and with little Arthur Huntingdon.
** By contrast, when the elder Arthur Huntingdon hits one of his dogs with a book, Helen begins to see what he's really like under all that charm.
* PoorCommunicationKills: In typical romantic tradition.
* PrinceCharmingWannabe: Walter Hargrave
* PrinceCharmless: Arthur Huntingdon. He has charm and good looks but no depth of character, moral foundation, or self control, as Helen eventually discovers.
* ProperLady: Despite the presence of straight examples, ultimately Deconstructed -- the lovely and virtuous Helen utterly fails to keep her husband on the straight and narrow due to his lack of self discipline and crowd of [[ToxicFriendInfluence poisonous friends]].
** Millicent Hattersley, though she lacks the 'core of iron.' Her husband complains that dealing with her is like walking on the sands of the beach -- soft, yielding, and wearying.
* RavenHairIvorySkin: Helen has black hair in long glossy ringlets and a "clear and pale" complexion. She is widely considered to be beautiful, if perhaps a little too thin and pale.
* RealityEnsues: Helen's LoveRedeems[=/=][[AllGirlsWantBadBoys Bad Boy]] fantasy gets brutally crushed by reality.
* RegencyEngland: In the broader sense of the term -- the main action takes place in the 1820s.
* RelativeError: Gilbert mistakes [[spoiler: Frederick Lawrence, Helen's brother,]] for Helen's lover.
* ScrapbookStory[=/=]FramingDevice: The novel consists of Gilbert's letters to a friend and Helen's diary.
* SpeakNowOrForeverHoldYourPeace: Invoked but subverted (in the [[NotASubversion correct use of the term]]) when Gilbert instantly heads for Grassdale Manor, intending to resort to this trope if he must, when he hears [[spoiler:the now-truly-widowed Helen is getting married.]] Fortunately, [[spoiler:he was misinformed.]]
* StalkerWithACrush: Mr. Hargrave
* StockholmSyndrome: Helen observes how Millicent Hattersley displays genuine affection and devotion to her husband in the same scenes where he verbally or physically abuses her.
* TakeThat: Perhaps to ''Jane Eyre'' (''Wuthering Heights'' also portrays the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine as very destructive and foolish), but the parallels between Rochester and Huntington aren't very strong. An alternative argument is that it's contrasting Rochester's actions with Helen's far more meritorious reaction to a similar (and worse) situation.
* TheThreeFacesOfEve: Helen and her two friends Millicent and Annabella who all marry into the same group of friends form this trio. Helen is the wife, steadfastly devoted to her marriage even when it begins to fall apart; she takes her marital duties so seriously that she returns to Grassdale when Huntingdon is ill to care for him. Millicent is the child, innocent, idealistic, and very passive, needing others to take care of her. Annabella is the seductress, tricking Lord Lowborough into marriage with her beauty and luring Huntingdon away from Helen, the death blow for Helen's love for her husband.
* ThrowTheDogABone: Mary Millward, the quiet, plain, unattractive girl whom only children and animals love, is happily married by the end of the story.
* ToxicFriendInfluence: Arthur Huntingdon and his "friends" keep thwarting Lord Lowborough's attempts to go clean. He never manages to get entirely sober until he gets away from them.
* TropeCodifier: Widely considered "the First Feminist Novel."
* UnreliableNarrator: Gilbert Markham, quite possibly as a ShoutOut to [[Literature/WutheringHeights Mr. Lockwood]].
* UpperClassTwit: Arthur Huntingdon and his cadre. Helen muses at one point that her husband might be a better man if he didn't have so much free time.
* TheVamp: Annabella Wilmot, as Lord Lowborough discovers too late. Gilbert warns Frederick Lawrence that Jane Wilson is not to be trusted before he can choose a similar fate.
* WhatDoesSheSeeInHim: Helen with Arthur Huntingdon, despite her aunt's warnings. Gilbert also later wonders what he ever saw in Eliza Millward.
* WhatTheHellHero: Gilbert, under the impression that [[spoiler: Frederick Lawrence]] is Helen's clandestine lover, cracks him over the head with the butt end of a horsewhip. Then, Gilbert has the nerve to wonder why [[spoiler: Frederick]] shows so little gratitude for Gilbert's attempt to "assist" him home. (He never does manage a wholehearted apology.)
* WeWantOurJerkBack: Probably unintentional -- Helen's response to Gilbert (per her own instructions) learning to control and restrain his passion for her and heeding to her wishes of not taking her husband's death as the greenlight for their own relationship is, "What is wrong with you?"
* WhosYourDaddy: Huntingdon fathered at least one of Annabella's children, much to Lowborough's dismay.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Mr. Hargrave thinks he's the selfless, gallant PrinceCharming who can rescue Helen from her misery, ignoring how miserable his own predatory persistence makes her.
* YankTheDogsChain: The evening before Helen realizes her husband is having an affair, she hears two of his friends complaining how "that woman" is civilizing and moralizing him -- and she gets an unexpectedly affectionate welcome when she surprises him outside. Then she learns that he thought she was someone else, and "that woman" is the Other Woman.
* YourCheatingHeart: During his marriage to Helen, Arthur Huntingdon commits adultery twice that Helen and the reader are aware of--with [[spoiler: Lady Lowborough]] and [[spoiler: his son's governess.]] However, he makes it clear to Helen that he has fooled around with married women before.

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