The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

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Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Wildfell Hall

Wildfell Hall. Old run-down country house dating back to the Elizabethan era, situated in the north of England, some seven miles from the nearest town and two miles from Gilbert’s farm. The house belongs to Frederick Lawrence, Helen’s brother, and was the family home until fifteen years earlier, when he removed to a more spacious modern house, Woodford, in the neighboring parish, leaving the hall untenanted. It is described as being built of dark gray stone; having thick stone mullions and narrow, latticed windows; being surrounded by stone walls and an overgrown garden; and being set on the moors and therefore completely isolated. A few rooms have been prepared for Helen, including one room she uses as a studio.

Linden-hope

Linden-hope. Family farm of Gilbert Markham, where he lives with his mother, sister, and brother. The farmhouse is portrayed as typical of a gentleman farmer, where good manners and etiquette are combined with open hospitality and unpretentious living. The farmlands are situated in a fertile valley and run up the sides of the moorland. The nearby village is not well described apart from the parish church and its vicarage, where Gilbert’s first love lives. The setting corresponds to Yorkshire, the home county of Anne Brontë.

Linden-Car Bay

Linden-Car Bay. Nearest seaside place to the village, the overlooking cliffs being five miles away. A group excursion is made here through the summer countryside. The location is probably Scarborough, where Brontë spent several holidays. It is also featured in her earlier novel, Agnes Grey (1847).

Staningly Hall

Staningly Hall. The first place mentioned in Helen’s narrative, it is the country residence of her aunt and uncle, with whom she lives. It contains extensive grounds and woods, to which Mr. Maxwell invites a party of Helen’s suitors to enjoy the hunting, symbolic of Helen’s being hunted, she being heiress to the estate. At the end of the novel, Gilbert and Helen take up residence there, after it has been made clear that class differences and financial inequality are no bar to true love.

Grassdale Manor

Grassdale Manor. Country residence of Arthur Huntingdon, where Helen spends her married life. It is not dissimilar to Staningly in location or architecture, both being vaguely described, and probably both being based on Thorp Hall, Yorkshire, where Brontë was a governess. The contrast is in Helen’s treatment at both places. Near Grassdale stands the Grove, another country house belonging to their neighbor, Mr. Hargrave, one of Huntingdon’s “friends.” Hargrave lives at the Grove, with his mother and sisters, who become friends to Helen. It lies a day’s coach ride from Staningly and a similar distance from Wildfell Hall.

*London

*London. Capital of Great Britain whose fashionable life is described by Helen and consists of a series of meeting grounds, where young women may find a suitable husband in the presence of chaperones. Such meeting places consist of balls and dinner parties. Brontë’s descriptions are necessarily vague and derivative as she had hardly ever left her native Yorkshire village. Another side of fashionable London emerges through the novel: that of dissipation. Arthur retreats to various drinking and gambling haunts with his companions, escaping the domesticity Helen seeks to create for him.

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

King George IV and the Regency Era
The Regency is the name for that period from 1811 to 1820 when the Prince of Wales served as prince regent in place of his father the ill King George III. King George IV reigned from 1820, when his father died, until his own death in 1830 at age sixty-seven. The prince regent was best known for his extravagant lifestyle—hallmark of the Regency era—which angered his father, King George III, who was known to be thrifty and plain. Prince George further upset his parents and Parliament by carrying on a romance with the Roman Catholic Maria Anne Fitzherbert, whom he married in 1785, even though several...

(The entire section is 2,722 words.)