‘Watched: ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte’

The tenant of wildfell hall

I received 3 Bronte DVD’s for Christmas.  All were BBC adaptations – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’.  Of course, I have seen these before when they were shown – or so I’d thought.  ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ starring Tara Fitzgerald, Toby Stephens and Rupert Graves is a highly enjoyable tale of intrigue, cruelty and adventure (it goes without saying that there’s a love interest..).  I must confess to never having  actually finished reading ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte.  Every time I have started this book something has happened, in fact the only version I have of it is in that really tiny print that makes my head spin and my eyes cross!  I shall really have to rectify this (Dr my eyes) and get a better version.  In fact I have just decided that I will re read it and although I didn’t managed to finish it – I shall substitute it for ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles for my Flashback Challenge.  I wonder if this is allowed?  Well it is now lol!

anne bronte

Back to the story.  What a remarkable writer Anne Bronte was – quite underrated really.  The tale relates how a cruelly treated wife with an independent spirit is treated by society.  Her loyalty to her dastardly husband is admirable – and he just doesn’t deserve it.  But Helen Graham (Tara Fitzgerald) is no doormat.  Everything she does, she does in her child’s interest.   It is the son that her husband (Rupert Graves) is interested in – what can she do, but follow him try to protect the little boy and prevent him from being corrupted by his cruel father.

Anne's scarborough grave

Helen Graham is a great heroine and played very well by Fitzgerald.  To actually leave her husband and live independently by painting landscapes in Victorian England shows great courage.  It is so sad to see her love for her husband dwindle away into pity and duty as he is dieing.  The contrast between the early love (before the scales have dropped from her eyes) and her sense of duty is quite affecting.  She does get her reward though.  He comes in the guise of a handsome young farmer Gilbert Markham (Toby Stephens) whose tenacity finally pays off.

This is no straight forward tale though.  The tale is told in three parts; the first being Markham’s perspective, next from Helen’s diary (read by Markham) and the last part tells about Helen’s  forced return to her husband and what happens when she does.

Anne is buried at Scarborough, her favorite place.  I have a picture of her grave somewhere

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8 Responses to “‘Watched: ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte’”

  1. One of my chief regrets on my visit to the UK last summer was not getting to Anne’s grave in Scarborough. It was originally on the itinerary but I cut it because of lack of time…but next time!

    I found Tenant of Wildfell Hall a bit tedious, to be honest. I thought Anne made her point and told her story and then got repetitive. However, I might have just been in a mood and not given it the chance it deserves.

    I’ll have to look for this adaptation–it looks good.

  2. Scarborough’ is a lovely place, but I recall it being quite breezy near the grave. It is easy to see why Anne loved this place though. I do know what you mean about Wildfell being a tad tedious to follow, and I think that this is probably why, coupled with the small print I didn’t finish the book. But, this adaptation has made me think again about Anne’s contribution and made we want to persevere with the book. I think that adaptations should whet the appetite, and this did with me.

  3. I’m a big fan of the Brontes and do like the book, so I’d say it is worth getting a copy with bigger print – I know just what you mean about struggling to read tiny print! I also love the adaptation with Tara Fitzgerald, Toby Stephens and Rupert Graves – I must get a copy and watch it again!

  4. Hi Judy, I’m still ploughing through ‘Titus’Groan’ for the Flashback Challenge at the moment, but I will re read ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ later with bigger print. Having said that, I hope that the print on this piece isn’t too small! It may be the theme I’m working with, but sometimes the formatting goes haywire and the print comes out huge and I have to reduce – there seems no happy medium. Yes fabulous version with Fitzgerald, Stephen and Graves. I found it so sad when she returned to the brute. The vicar in that tale was absolutely horrible too – a real gossip monger. the Bronte’s aren’t keen on the clergy are they – wonder why? lol! Thanks for visiting!

  5. Interesting point about the Brontes not liking the clergy! I’ll have to look further into that. Those ladies are turning out be as interesting as their fiction. On my to-read list is Elizabeth Gaskell’s autobiography of Charlotte Bronte. Gaskell was a bestselling author, a contemporary of CB’s during CB’s fame, and the two were very good friends. Should make for an interesting perspective.

    Also, reading Tenant, it’s interesting to look at Helen as a co-dependent. She had no Alanon, so tried every common trick that uninformed loved ones try when someone close is an addict.

    Thanks for your great post, echostains!

    • No, thank YOU for reading Naima!

    • the Bronte sisters cringed at the clergy,branwell too…there was a young preacher called Patience Lister who Thornton* parishioners/ Bronte birthplace*/ …adored he was a non conformist and was born years before the sisters were even born ….Patience slipped from his horse and became disabled so the Thornton non conformists would carry him to the plinth to preach ….it is obvious that the scene in Charlotte Bronte’s, Jane Eyre,where Rochester falls from his horse as he first stumbles acroos Jane is a direct reference to patience…the sisters saw both sides of scocial and economic wealth and poverty as daughters of a clergy,all through their writings and through the characters actions in the books …. the Bronte’s feelings for the church with it’s hypocrisy shine through…

      • Thanks Susan. there is a reference to a bible which belonged to one of the Bronte’s on this blog somewhere (I think it might have been Charlottes’) It was on the Antiques Roadshow a couple of years ago. It has doodles and scribblings on the pages – as if the owner were preoccupied and not concentrating on the sermon. I thnk that reveals a lot about what Charlotte really thought of the Church also 🙂

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