When Arthur Huntingdon is dying at his bed, he asks for Helen’s motives taking care of him. He wishes to know if she does it all to comply with the Bible then for the sake of heaven. Although he conveys his messages when he is furious and frustrated with his deteriorating health, his questions shatter a quite religious person like I.
The questions make me as a reader and a religious person to think what drives people to get married. Is it because of love? Is it because of implementing one of the religion’s teachings? Is it because of wanting to get a heaven in the hereafter?
When the novel comes out, controversy emerges. The traits of Helen Graham are very brave, for a modern reader for me, but probably not for readers in the 19th century. Her decisions to leave her unfaithful, cruel husband prove to have stirred a controversy at that time. In Islam, no matter what happens, either wives or husbands are strongly advised to remain at home. They should talk and solve their problems under the same roofs. But after trying so damn hard to fix things yet to no avail, should Helen stay?
She chooses to leave the house as I and may be some modern readers wish her to do. I am so relieved coming to the part when she eventually gets rid of the mansion and the disgusting husband. But is this step acceptable at that time? In the era when marriage is so strictly-regulated, getting divorce is considered as a social taboo. Husbands are way superior to wives in terms of finance and social status. Thus, Helen’s decision of leaving the house when things get unbearable, baffle public at that time.
Another topic that I like from this book is when Helen has to choose between Arthur and Mr. Boarham. This one is so common. Which reasons that will be your considerations? One who is so attractive yet ill-mannered or another one who is much older than you are, not handsome but very decent and a gentleman.
And again, Helen’s steps resonates my thoughts. If I were her, I’d go for Arthur because it’s impossible to get married without any love at all. Whether the decisions will prove your choice is wrong or right, better put focus on the consequences. And Helen does this wonderfully. She takes full responsibility whatever outcomes are in store for her. Through pain, anger, frustration, she eventually goes through it all. She is a very ideal fictitious character whose story won’t ever age.