Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Louise Economides

Commitee Members

David Moore, Deborah Slicer


Anne Bronte, nature, sublime


University of Montana


This thesis addresses the Heideggerean notion of dwelling in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by analyzing the different ways the novel’s 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 Helen’s 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.



© Copyright 2008 Rebecca L. Lupold