Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996)

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an 1848 novel by Anne Brontë (the third and obscurest Brontë sister) under the pseudonym Acton Bell. It was her second and final novel, after Agnes Grey. It is generally considered the most shocking of the Brontë's novels, it deals with immoral themes of adultery and vice, as well as domestic abuse. The book outsold that of Wuthering Heights, penned by her sister Emily. The book, set in rural Yorkshire, is narrated by Gilbert Markham, neighbour to the mysterious young widow, Helen Graham, who moves into a nearby mansion, Wildfell Hall.


The scope of 1996 adaption is grandiose, sweeping across the foggy moors to inhabiting the darker and moody corners of Helen Graham's home. Rather than being dull the greyness of the composition is crisp and refreshing. We see the characters in sharp contrast and can read their characters well. The setting veers between the crooks and corners of Wildfell and its surroundings to the gaily lit ballrooms described by Helen in correspondence with Gilbert. Most of Gilbert and Helen's encounters happen outdoors, alluding to the freedom Helen craves as opposed to the violence, entrapment and uncomfortable secrecy imposed by the domestic sphere. However Helen can not be wholly free and soon her past catches up with her necessitating her to leave Wildfell, not before communicating the truth of her situation to Gilbert with whom she has formed a romantic attachment.


Young and new to society in London, Helen, (Tara Fitzgerald) meets the handsome Arthur Huntington (Rupert Graves)  He charms her off her feet and proposes marriage. At first, the young Mrs. Huntington is happy, but it's not long before her husband's true colours start showing through. He abandons his pregnant wife in order to enjoy himself in London ... and eventually, he comes back - his bad points have deteriorated and he's now a full-blown alcoholic and womaniser with a foul temper and a tendency to violence, and eventually, Helen has enough and decides to leave.

This story is dark but I really like it!  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a magnificent piece of storytelling. Enjoy! :) xx


  1. I absolutely love this version, and it's such an amazing book!! :) xx

    1. Yet, again we both agree!! :D xx