Monday, 18 September 2017

The Tenant of Windfell Hall

   "The Tenant of Windfell Hall", written in 1848, is about a woman who arrived at Windfell Hall with her son and a servant.  The house had not been lived in for years and stories circulated in the farming community about this quiet, beautiful, young woman. 
    A local farmer, Gilbert Markham, fell in love with her and tried to stop the rumours. Helen allowed him to read her diary and that is where we get her back story of domestic abuse.
   The stories of Helen's husband and his 'buddies' were thought to be too graphic and disturbing for the times.  They were a group of misogynistic, alcoholic brutes, a story that is always disturbing.  
   But Anne Bronte's answer to these arguments was this:
When we have to do with vice and vicious characters, I maintain it is better to depict them as they really are than as they would wish to appear.  To represent a bad thing in its least offensive light, is doubtless the most agreeable course for a writer of fiction to pursue; but is it the most honest, or the safest? Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers?"

   Anne's sister, Charlotte had the last word.  
   After Anne died, Charlotte prevented republication of her sister's book.  
   She felt that it violated not only the conventions of the times, but also violated the law.  That is, leaving her husband was against the law, not the abuse.
  The novel certainly reminds us of the difficult life of women who lived a hundred years ago.   
  In fact, the book was written under an alias- a man's name, of course (Acton Bell).
  And you can see from the cover, that it was written in three volumes.  I loved the language, and learned many new words, such as "poltroonery".  But my word for Anne is VERBOSE!

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