The theme of love in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and George Elliot’s The Mill on the Floss
My aim is to compare and contrast different kinds of love in the novels The Tenant of Wildfell Hall written by Anne Brontë and The Mill on the Floss written by George Elliot. I am going to examine and determine a love of parents for their children, a love between siblings, a love between man and woman, and a love of literature and art in these novels. In the novel The Mill on the Floss the heroine Helen has a little son – Arthur and she loves him very much. She takes a good care of him, she is aware where he is and what he is doing, and if she is not around her, she asks about him: “What was Arthur doing when you came away?” (Brontë, 55). She tries to provide him a good education and she wants him to become a good man one day. And when he is around his father who has a really bad influence on him, she does everything possible to protect him from the behaviour of his father. Even though his father is a bad person, she does not want her son to hate his father, she only wants him to see that his father is not a good person and that little Arthur does not have to be the same: “And when you hear such words spoken, Arthur, remember never to repeat them: it is wicked to say such things of others, not to have them said against you” (299). Even though it seems to be impossible to manage it, one day little Arthur sees it: “ ‘I’m sorry papa’s wicked,’ said he mournfully, at length, ‘for I don’t want him to go to hell.’ And so saying he burst into tears” (300). Helen’s love for her son is selfless, patient, and never-stopping – just the way the love of a parent for her or his child is supposed to be. Maggie and Tom, siblings in the novel The Mill on the Floss, have parents who care for them as well. Their father Mr Tulliver wants to provide them with good education: “what I want is to give Tom a good eddication” (Elliot, 14). He knows that he is a bit illiterate so he wants his son to be better, educated, and independent as he has never been. His wife agrees with him: “Well, Mr. Tulliver, you know best: I’ve no objections” (14). When Tom is sent away from home to get his education, his father visits him when he has a chance: “It was Mr. Tulliver’s first visit to see Tom” (99). They have good parents-children relationship which is obvious from the actions of Tom and Maggie. After their education they help their father, protect him from bad news when he is deadly ill or when he hurts himself, or when he lost everything they obey him and help him: “When Maggie reached home that evening, in obedience to her father’s call, he was no longer insensible” (132). The love of Maggie’s parents is not acquisitive and selfless because they do for their children what they need to have better life and they are asking only for obedience. Helen has one brother who is called Frederic, but they are not really close as children, because she lives with her aunt and not with him. But when the trouble with Helen’s husband comes and she needs to run, he helps her without hesitation because blood is thicker than water. And thanks to their distant relationship her husband will never ask him about her: “Mr. Huntingdon would be the last person to whom he should communicate the intelligence; and that he need not trouble himself to bargain for the child, for he (Frederick) fancied he knew enough of his sister to enable him to declare, that wherever she might be, or however situated, no consideration would induce her to deliver him up” (326). But when she leaves her husband and starts living in Wildfell Hall, they grow closer and he is her regular visitor. And since no one knows who he is to her, everyone including Gilbert, the man who loves her, thinks that they are lovers. Gilbert overhears one of their conversations of loving each other and he misinterprets it: “I heard quite enough, Helen. And it was well for me that I did hear it; for nothing less could...
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