The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

Have you ever had one of those days when you just cannot stop thinking about a certain novel? It seems to follow you wherever you go, and it is in your mind no matter what it is you are doing at the time.

That is what is happening to me today with Anne Bronte's novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. When I first read it, I could not get it out of my head either. But now, I don't see why it should be occupying my thoughts so much. I recently mentioned the BBC series in my post on period pieces, and yesterday I decided to watch it again.

Perhaps that is why the novel found its way into the essay I had to write for the Touro English placement exam today. One of the choices for the essay was "Knowledge is power" vs. "Ignorance is bliss." What a wonderful topic, I thought, and I decided to do it. I claimed that knowledge is, indeed, power, while ignorance often leads to misery. As one of the proofs, I mentioned The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and how Helen's ignorance led to misery and pain. Had she known her husband's true nature and the hopelessness of changing or reforming him, she would not have married him. At the time that she accepted his proposal, she was unaware of the extent of his debauchery. Ignorance is bliss? I don't think so. That ignorance caused her to get stuck with an abusive and unfaithful husband.


I remembered bookmarking some pages in my copy of the book to which I wanted to go back, so I just took it off the shelf again and thought I might as well post my thoughts and some quotes I liked.

Helen, the main character of the book, once said, "I hate talking where there is no exchange of ideas or sentiments, and no good given or received." I too prefer real, thorough conversations to small talk, but when everybody around you is so attached to small talk, it is difficult to avoid it. Whenever there is a silence, people feel the need to fill it instead of simply enjoying the moment. Why must something always be said, though? If there is nothing worth saying, would it not be better to remain silent?

Another thing I appreciated was the following exchange between Helen and Mr. Markham as they observed the beauty of nature:
Helen: "I almost wish I were not a painter."
Mr. Markham: "Why so? One would think at such a time you would most exult in your privilege of being able to imitate the various brilliant and delightful touches of nature."
Helen: "No; for instead of delivering myself up to the full enjoyment of them as others do, I am always troubling my head about how I could produce the same effect upon canvas; and as that can never be done, it is mere vanity and vexation of spirit."

I often feel this way in regard to my writing. Although I love to write and it is something I do on a constant basis, there are moments when I feel as if I cannot fully experience something because I am busy thinking of how I can get it into writing. Even though I appreciate having what to write about, it is sometimes a bit overwhelming because I feel I cannot go onto the next experience until I have done justice to the previous one.

Here is another quote from Helen that adequately describes what my feelings are toward writing: "This paper will serve instead of a confidential friend into whose ear I might pour forth the overflowings of my heart." I tend to do that a lot; I avoid confiding many of my thoughts, and my idea of sharing them is to write them down in a notebook. Although I am sitting here now and typing up my present thoughts for my blog, it is nothing compared to what I keep between me and my notebooks.

It is wonderful how often books mirror your own thoughts and how accurately they do so. I found it to be especially true with this book, which is, I suppose, why I wanted to dedicate a post to it.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009 at Thursday, June 18, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

8 comments

"Have you ever had one of those days when you just cannot stop thinking about a certain novel?"- I still think it's funny, but sometimes you develop sort of an interest in the characters and ideas of the story, even though in essence the only connection it has with the real world is the shape of the letters on paper..

"Why must something always be said, though? If there is nothing worth saying, would it not be better to remain silent?'- Silence can be pretty awkward, man.

"I am always troubling my head about how I could produce the same effect upon canvas; and as that can never be done, it is mere vanity and vexation of spirit"- Yeah, I've noticed that in a lot of aspects of life; if you fully apreciate it, then you can't record it. If you record it, then you won't be able to "savor the moment"..

"This paper will serve instead of a confidential friend into whose ear I might pour forth the overflowings of my heart."- I actually just talk to myself instead. I think it works a lot better. You should try it sometime. ; )

June 20, 2009 at 11:45 PM

"I still think it's funny" -- I see nothing amusing about getting emotionally involved in literature. But then again, I am a writer....

"Silence can be pretty awkward, man." -- Only if you make it so. At any rate, at least it is not as ridiculous as most small talk is.

"You should try it sometime." -- Oh, don't worry.. it's a regular habit of mine. It's what I do when I take long walks alone or am anywhere alone. Talking to myself, to imaginary characters... You should see the looks my parents give me.

June 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM

"I see nothing amusing about getting emotionally involved in literature."- Like I said, it's at least a little funny to develop an emotional relationship to ink markings on a paper..

"Talking to myself, to imaginary characters..."- Ha. That's even a little further past the "pale of settlement' than I am. ..and I thought that was impossible..(though sometimes I vocalize mock conversations between "imaginary" people just because I'm amused with the sound of it...still not as bad as you..)

Ha. Russian parents. I can imagine them worridly discussing your sanity in wispered Russian.. (No offense of course).

June 21, 2009 at 12:29 AM

"Like I said, it's at least a little funny to develop an emotional relationship to ink markings on a paper.." -- Ink markings? Is that how you carelessly sum up millions of worlds?

"...still not as bad as you.." -- Excuse me?

"I can imagine them worridly discussing your sanity in wispered Russian.." -- For your information, yes, the discussions were in Russian, and as they were directed at me, they were not whispered. And my parents weren't the only ones worried about my sanity...

I don't see anything wrong with having a healthy imagination though.

June 21, 2009 at 12:37 AM

"Ink markings? Is that how you carelessly sum up millions of worlds?"- Well they're not real people. They're just written discriptions of fanciful individuals. I guess subconciously we take these accounts at face value, but it's kind of silly to say things like "I wonder what becomes of Helen", when there is no Helen. ..I think it's a pretty clear-cut idea..

"Excuse me?"- What?! I don't have imaginary friends. ..perhaps I should have said "not as good as you"! ; )

"I don't see anything wrong with having a healthy imagination though"- Listen man, there's healthy, and there's HEALTHY! ...why am I the only one who finds my jokes humorous? Can't be a good thing can it? Either way, um, look at Neitzsche (spelling?), all his innovative thoughts sort of led to his later insanity. Not to suggest anything! Just saying parents have the right to be worried about their children, I guess. ..this didn't come out right at all..

June 21, 2009 at 12:48 AM

"..I think it's a pretty clear-cut idea.." -- Perhaps it is, for people like you who are not as involved in literature and fiction.

"Listen man" -- Why do guys feel the need to address everyone else, regardless of gender, as "man" or "dude"?

"why am I the only one who finds my jokes humorous?" -- Um... Do you want an answer to that?

"Neitzsche (spelling?)" -- Nietzsche. Pretty close, but not close enough.

"..this didn't come out right at all.." -- You said it yourself.

June 21, 2009 at 1:09 AM

"Why do guys feel the need to address everyone else, regardless of gender, as "man" or "dude"?"- It's part of a hippie-like linguistic usage I guess. Though I apologize; if you notice such things then I'll only address you as Hannah or ISH from now on.

"Nietzsche. Pretty close"- I was honestly going to go for that, but I felt it looked too much like "niet" in Russian!

"You said it yourself"- Ha. (I have a nasty tendancy to put my foot in my mouth...so to speak).

June 21, 2009 at 1:24 AM

ISH is fine.

June 21, 2009 at 1:35 AM

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