74 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1848

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Character Analysis

Helen Huntingdon

Helen is the book’s chief female protagonist and the character around whom most of the action revolves. She has black hair, dark eyes, and is beautiful. She was born Helen Lawrence and grew up in Wildfell Hall. Her family had some standing and fortune, but after her mother’s death, Helen was raised by her Aunt Maxwell, her mother’s sister. Her father and her brother, Frederick, moved to a more modern home, Woodford, near a town called Lindenhope in Yorkshire. There is one small, passing hint that her father misused alcohol and ultimately died from alcohol addiction, which might explain Helen’s horror for what she calls this “vice.”

Helen tends to be serious and self-possessed. She dislikes small talk, gossip, artificiality, and lies. She likes to read and enjoys painting. She is deeply moral and prides herself on her good sense. At age 18, when her aunt and uncle take Helen to London to make her social debut, Helen is certain that she will choose a husband she can respect and admire. In reality, when Helen meets Arthur Huntingdon and experiences physical desire for the first time—an infatuation she mistakes for love—she explains away signs of his weak character as simple joie de vivre.

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Related Titles

By Anne Brontë