Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday, January 25, 2021 12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
A new Brontë-related scholar approach:
An Unfortunate Governess Received: Anne and Charlotte Brontë’s Portrayals of the Feminine Occupation
Jessica DeMarco-Jacobson
Momentum 2020
Columbus State University's Undergraduate Research Journal
Volume VII, pp. 18

Abstract

Charlotte and Anne Brontë, while both talented and canonized authors in their own right, display different approaches in their writing style. Both of the Brontë sisters worked as governesses at some point in their lives, then created novels with a plain governess as a main character. Although Anne was the first to do so, she faced difficulties in publishing her book, Agnes Grey, due to the candid nature of her writing. Agnes faced criticism from her sister, who maintained that Anne’s style was inappropriate for the readers of their century. However, Anne’s lengthier career as a governess allowed her better insight into the profession. Unlike her Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey exhibits what a 19th-century governess would have encountered in her career: loneliness due to her awkward social position, disrespect from her employers, and difficult, unruly children whose behaviour could endanger her career. Aside from Jane’s childhood at the Reeds’ residence and Lowood School, her career as a governess is one contrary to what governesses at the time recorded. Jane has an employer that sees her as her equal, a loving student, and coworkers that respect her. Agnes experiences the complete opposite during her life, supporting the assertion that Anne’s career influenced her to write a more realistic portrayal of the feminine occupation. Letters and books concerning the livelihood of being a governess reveal that most women employed in that profession would have claimed themselves as “an unfortunate governess received,” rather than attest to any of Jane’s experiences.

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