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Full text of "The Brontèˆ sisters"

THE  BRONTE  SISTERS                           37
parental love—all these Anne recounts without, so to speak,
ever raising her voice, but with a grave exact simplicity, a
precision of detail, which have a quietly devastating effect.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) is painted in bolder
colours, but with a less certain hand. Anne wrote it to show
the evils of drunkenness as she knew them in Branwell, and
whenever she is describing the drunkard Arthur Huntingdon
on the morning after a debauch, the close accuracy of her
observation carries entire conviction. But the debauch itself
is from sheer ignorance less well described, and Helen's
diary of her wretched marriage to Huntingdon proves less
interesting than Gilbert Markham's account of his love for
the mysterious new 'tenant', Helen, who has fled from her
husband with her little son. A noticeably good feature of
this novel is Anne's painting of the moorland landscapes
which surround Wildfell Hall. Though they lack the wild
poetry which Emily gives to these adored phenomena,
Anne's earth and wind and weather are always closely
observed from life, and thus have a welcome freshness and
truth.
With her perfect spiritual integrity, her quiet scorn for
the worldly, her calm, clear, grey sentences, her still
intensity, her truthfulness, her fresh angle on domestic
life, Anne is in her own right a minor classic.
Conclusion
Emily, a major poet who is also the author of a superb
masterpiece of fiction; Charlotte, a novelist of strong and
original genius; Anne, a writer of clear if somewhat pallid
talent—it is a remarkable trio to come from one family
resident in a remote moorland parish in days when female
education had hardly begun. Indeed the Brontes' lives
form such a poignant and fascinating human document
that it is not surprising so much interest has been concen-
trated upon their personalities. But it is our present business
to analyse the nature of their work and estimate its place in
literature.