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I'm having trouble understanding the sentence "in which old associations and the fair young hermit, now within those walls, bore a nearly equal part" in the following paragraph from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Who's this white hermit she's talking about? Please help.

While I thus stood, leaning on my gun, and looking up at the dark gables, sunk in an idle reverie, weaving a tissue of wayward fancies, in which old associations and the fair young hermit, now within those walls, bore a nearly equal part, I heard a slight rustling and scrambling just within the garden; and, glancing in the direction whence the sound proceeded, I beheld a tiny hand elevated above the wall: it clung to the topmost stone, and then another little hand was raised to take a firmer hold, and then appeared a small white forehead, surmounted with wreaths of light brown hair, with a pair of deep blue eyes beneath, and the upper portion of a diminutive ivory nose.

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    'I was daydreaming; and people I'd met in the past, and the good-looking young hermit (now within the hall), appeared in my reveries in equal proportions.' – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 at 13:05
  • Thank you so much Edwin. – yzak Jan 25 at 15:47
  • @yzak In "the fair young hermit" / "Who's this white hermit", "fair" does not mean "white." It means attractive; good-looking; beautiful; handsome, etc. – Greybeard Feb 24 at 17:36
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The 'Tenant' is a young lady who has left her abusive husband. The narrator (a man, if I remember correctly!) calls her fair meaning beautiful, not fair-haired or 'white', and a hermit because she lives alone (with her child and presumably one or two servants) and doesn't mix in society.

'Old associations' refers to what he knows of the history of Wildfell Hall before she came to live there.

  • Thank you so much – yzak Jan 25 at 15:46

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