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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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“Frank and unconscious humor and narrative structure in Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Lorene M. Birden
  • Institut Universitaire de Technologie de Dijon
  • :
Published Online: 2011-07-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2011.017


This study presents two aspects of the novel in question, its humor and its structure. It shows that both have been misunderstood and misinterpreted, and begins by reminding us that the author herself was long misunderstood because of early critical misreadings and presuppositions. It then continues to demonstrate that the two aspects studied are in fact interrelated; the so-called flawed structure, actually a framing structure, is in fact a firm form that is carefully underpinned by the instances of humor. It proceeds by presenting and dispelling the basic myths about the author and the novel, then presents the structure and the reasons for misconceptions of it before proceeding to map the humor using Attardo's system of humor rhythm mapping. Chlopicki's character frames also contribute to a demonstration of parallel characterization which contradicts another, minor myth, that of the unsuitability of the hero for the heroine. The study as a whole attacks the ideas of humorlessness in Brontë fiction, the inferiority of Anne's work and the feebleness of the structure of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Keywords:: Anne Brontë; characterization; framing structure; humor; novelistic structure; Victorian novel

Published Online: 2011-07-25

Published in Print: 2011-08-01

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research. Volume 24, Issue 3, Pages 263–286, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2011.017, July 2011

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