Reading journal, entry no. 1, for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – full of potential spoilers so beware. May also contain bad grammar and egregious typing errors because I want to get back to the book and read more.

I‘m reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë and really feel I need to write something about it at this point. For those who have read it, I am at the point where Gilbert‘s narrative has ended and Helen‘s narrative has just started. I deliberately didn't read about the story before I started reading it and just about the only thing I knew about it before commencing is that it's probably a romance.

Such a storm of emotions already, falling occasionally over the verge into highly enjoyable melodrama: Gilbert falling violently in love with Helen (quite believably, I think, people being prone to fall for those they see as unavailable), H repelling him but eventually showing signs of loving him back (not quite as realistic as his feelings for her as it isn't explained why she would love him), and G assaulting the man he believes H is having an affair with, possibly in the belief that the victim has seduced her and is using her, or possibly because G is, when it comes down to it, a jealous boor with an anger-management problem. So far this looks like the beginning of a juicy big mis plot. Add to this that once G and H have a chance to clear everything up, they skirt the issue so adroitly that I'm sure this is going to be one whopper of a big mis.

I mean, really: what rational man attacks another over a suspicion and a slightly jeering comment? Ok, a lot of men probably would, but G has represented himself as quite sane, civilised and stable up to that point and then he suddenly lashes out? Not quite believable in my opinion, unless he has problems with anger management or a mental problem. However, this being melodrama and (I think) romance, he's probably just supposed to be violently jealous to the point of irrationality). Going back to check on his victim and actually worrying for his own safety should the victim press charges (or whatever they called it back in Victorian times) is, however, a nice touch and establishes him as a somewhat caring and realistic person, even if somewhat lacking in empathy for others as he makes little of the other man's injuries afterwards. This makes it practically certain that he is meant to be a sympathetic hero.

I can‘t really comment on Helen yet, as I have only seen her from Gilbert‘s perspective, but I am looking forward to seeing her from the inside. From G's perspective she seems like someone who has had a hard time prior to the beginning of the narrative and to be trying to make the best of things and avoid complications which, however, G and the maliciously gossiping neighbours are making it hard for her to do. She also clearly has a secret, and what little I have read of her narrative so far and between the lines in G's narrative, it seems connected to a man.

Is she an unwed mother, (that most dreadful and pitiable of creatures in those times), a widow with a bad marriage and bad debts behind her, or an abused wife or mistress on the run? Whatever it is, it must be connected with alcohol abuse, as she seems to have succeeded in purposely making her son quite disgusted by wine.

I just hope this doesn't turn into a horrid bleak read like sister Emily's famous novel. Come on, Anne, I need this to have a happy ending so I can use it as a springboard for rereading Wuthering Heights.

Gosh, I'd forgotten how much I used to love Victorian novels!


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