Dwelling and the Woman Artist in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
This thesis addresses the Heideggerean notion of dwelling in Anne Brontës The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by analyzing the different ways the novels protagonist, Helen Huntingdon, adapts to the harsh, sublime landscape of Wildfell Hall and the subsequent relationship that develops between her and Gilbert Markham. Escaping her violent and abusive husband, Helen flees to Wildfell Hall and uses her skills as an artist to support both herself and her son. In the first chapter, late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century aesthetics of the sublime and the picturesque are evaluated in relation to the aesthetic spaces of the novel. Helen enjoys an intimate connection to the landscape both at Grassdale and Wildfell Hall, and she finds solace and freedom in nature. But the aesthetics of the picturesque both provide a space for Helen and confine her. In the second chapter, these confines will be explored more fully. Helen remains under the gaze of those around her, both the individual males who wish to control her and the community members who try to judge her. The domestic sphere also confines her; the home becomes a site of imprisonment rather than the safe, nurturing space upheld by Victorian society. The second chapter also develops Helens role as a sublime heroine, which is analyzed more fully in the third chapter, which primarily focuses on how Helen challenges the norms of the Victorian heroine. Gilbert also challenges the norms for the Victorian hero. Their roles in the novel emphasize reciprocal relationships, both with human beings as well as with the land and animals. The narrative structure of the novel suggests this sort of relationality as well and an analysis of its significance will form a part of the concluding chapter of the thesis.
Advisor:Dr. Louise Economides; Dr. David Moore; Dr. Deborah Slicer
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:08/07/2008