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Fridge / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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Fridge Brilliance

  • I've noticed that in the novel Helen never acknowledges men's inherent superiority over women, despite often being in a subordinate position. As a married woman early in 19th century, Helen had no independent existence under English law, and therefore no right to own property or to enter into contracts separately from her husband, or to sue for divorce, or for the control and custody of her child. Apart from suing for divorce, Helen defied all these conventions. She also repeatedly rejected all offers of "help" from Walter Hargrave. When he beats her in a chess-game, he asks an ambiguous question: "You acknowledge my superiority?" Helen's answer is clear: "Yes—as a chess-player."

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