Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


Deborah Robinson, Ph.D.


This thesis traces parallels drawn between Anne Brontë’s life and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. An analysis of her poetry, her sister Charlotte’s diaries and letters and biographical events in the lives of the Brontë family reveal several possible interpretations. It appears that through the character of Helen, Anne Brontë might have been working through the hows and whys of Branwell Brontë’s downfall. She might also have been intentionally undermining the well known literary critic John Ruskin’s “Angel in the House” ideology. The overall subversive message in The Tenant is that it is more acceptable for a woman to be independent – physically, emotionally and financially – than it is for her to live in oppression. This message may seem obvious to readers today, but to Victorian readers, its call for equality was radical.

[Full title page and Abstract added in 2023 by Professor Case during the thesis digitization project.]