Killing the “Angel in the House”: Violence and Victim-Blaming in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

  • Claire O’CallaghanEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter examines Anne Brontë’s proto-feminist critique of the “angel in the house” in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). It argues that Brontë’s novel offers a twofold critique of angelic femininity. Firstly, she “tests” the feasibility of angelic womanhood when situated in impossible domestic circumstances, and secondly, she highlights the forms of violence that angelic femininity is often subjected to. In doing so, the chapter argues that Anne Brontë exposes the pervasive nature of victim-blaming in mid-nineteenth-century culture and anticipates recent legislative changes in the twenty-first century that now recognises emotional and psychological abuse in definitions of domestic violence.


Angel in the house Angelic femininity Angelic womanhood Victim-blaming Domestic violence Anne Brontë The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English LiteratureLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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