The Tenant at Wildfell Hall

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte shows the gruesome consequences of drug abuse, particularly the abuse of alcohol by Mrs. Graham’s ex husband Arthur Huntingdon. During the Victorian era, in which this novel takes place, the constant use of drugs was on the rise. Through Arthur, we see almost every aspect that is changed by the abuse of alcohol from a broken marriage to poor health to the effects of the family and friends around you along with many other changes. Bronte uses an array of characters to show the lives ripped apart by drug abuse in the Victorian Era.

Men, especially, were shown in the novel as almost always drunk or in some type of negative viewpoint. Arthur and all his friends were celebrated quite a bit through drinking. They seem to think of it as a sign of manhood, something they were proud of. At one point in the novel, Lord Byron comments “By God, he drinks like a man!” in reference to Arthur’s drinking habits and ability. It was not looked down upon at all to be a heavy drinker as that is exactly what Arthur and all his friends were. They would fight, throw things, and just act all out foolish when they became intoxicated. Eventually it lead to other more severe things such as Arthur becoming abusive toward his wife at the time, Helen. So, this mind set of alcoholism and their view on it was just the beginning of the lifestyle of Arthur and Helen Huntington.

While Helen was pregnant with their son, the abuse begins to start. The childish ways Arthur portrays gets worse during and after the pregnancy. At one specific point in the novel, Arthur was attempting to have sexual relations with Helen but she didn’t want to do so because of the baby. She yells and begs Arthur not to force himself on her as it seems he is about to do so. She mentions the baby and he stops and comments, “Curse the damn thing.” This is the point where the verbal abuse begins and the physical abuse isn’t long to...
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