An Analysis of Masculinity in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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In Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Arthur Huntington, Helen’s husband and Arthur’s father, is presented as an alcoholic, disgraceful, narcissistic “gentleman” (Brontë 311). Despite Helen’s efforts to shelter their son, Arthur, from the corrupted masculinity embodied by Huntington and his friends, Huntington encourages Arthur’s “manly accomplishments” that mirror his own character, such as excessive drinking, swearing, and selfishness (297). For fear of Arthur becoming “a curse to others and himself”, like his father, Helen has acquitted herself to prepare for an escape; however, Huntington seizes her journal which reveal her plans (203). In this passage Mr. Huntington is not only devaluing aspect of his corrupted masculinity, …show more content…
In Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Arthur Huntington, Helen’s husband and Arthur’s father, is presented as an alcoholic, disgraceful, narcissistic “gentleman” (Brontë 311). Despite Helen’s efforts to shelter their son, Arthur, from the corrupted masculinity embodied by Huntington and his friends, Huntington encourages Arthur’s “manly accomplishments” that mirror his own character, such as excessive drinking, swearing, and selfishness (297). For fear of Arthur becoming “a curse to others and himself”, like his father, Helen has acquitted herself to prepare for an escape; however, Huntington seizes her journal which reveal her plans (203). In this passage Mr. Huntington is not only devaluing aspect of his corrupted masculinity, like excessive drinking, but he is implying a new quality to his definition, the lack of violence and ability to deal with situations, such as Helen’s planning to escape, with calmness and rationality is gentlemanly; this brings into question the violent men in the novel as lesser because of their irrationality and behavior.
The evident identification Mr. Huntington has placed on alcohol in his corrupted view of masculinity is revealed early in his marriage to Helen. He often refers alcohol in a positive manner, or represents drunkenness as “glorious”, which arguably displays Huntington’s intimacy with alcohol (218). His excessive drinking become cause for extensive absences from Helen when he goes to London and lengthy illness when he
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