The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

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How has Anne Bronte used Helen Graham as a character to illustrate gender inequality in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?

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Although this novel is unique in Victorian fiction because of its feminist themes, it nevertheless illustrates the gender inequalities of Victorian England while at the same time, rejecting those inequalities. Helen (Mrs. Graham) does many things in this novel that a nice Victorian woman would never do – argue with her husband, slam the bedroom door in her husband’s face, hatch a secret plan to leave her husband, plan to support herself, etc. While she was a scandalous example of a Victorian woman, rebelling against the role that her society had assigned to her, she was still trapped in a society in which women were relegated to second-class (or less) citizens, good for having babies and catering to their husbands.

Helen starts out as a typical Victorian woman. She falls in love with a scoundrel and womanizer, but marries him in spite of her Aunt’s advice to the contrary, believing she can reform him. She puts up with her husband Arthur’s womanizing for quite some time, however. He leaves her to go to London for months at a time, and she is left at home to entertain herself. Even after she gives birth to a son, he continues in his wild ways. She is expected to remain at home and be the dutiful wife while he carries on to such an extent that he becomes ill from so much drinking and carousing. When Helen catches Arthur in the act of kissing her friend Annabella, she must still ask for his permission to leave him with her son, and he refuses. They are estranged, but they continue to live together because Helen has no means to...

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