Monday, 21 April 2014

Happy Birthday Charlotte Brontë

Out of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, Emily will always be my favourite. Although she only really left us Wuthering Heights, the work speaks for her genius. But there is no denying that Charlotte Brontë was absolutely crucial in giving the three sisters the fame they deserved.


Charlotte Brontë was born on the 21st of April in 1816 and wrote under the pseudonym Currer Bell. Although she was born the third of five sisters, she became the "eldest" after the older two, Elizabeth and Maria, died of tuberculosis during their years at a boarding school. Those familiar with Jane Eyre will doubtlessly recognize this as having had a major impact on the young girl, whose mother had already died at that point. Together with her surviving siblings, Branwell, Emily and Anna, she created an imaginary world and wrote her first stories on it and its inhabitants. After teaching in Brussels, an inspiration for the two latter novels below, she and her sisters released a collection of their poetry under the pseudonyms of the brothers Bell: Currer, Ellis and Acton. Charlotte's Jane Eyre was a major success and partially paved the way for her sisters' novels as well.

A happy 198th birthday to Charlotte Brontë. Some of Charlotte's works are:

the famous and everlasting Jane Eyre:
10210Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.
A novel I surprisingly quite liked: Villette.

31173Arguably Brontë's most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of Villette,flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy's struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Brontë's strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free.
And then one I haven't read yet: The Professor.

31175The Professor is Charlotte Brontës first novel, in which she audaciously inhabits the voice and consciousness of a man, William Crimsworth. Like Jane Eyre he is parentless; like Lucy Snowe in Villette he leaves the certainties of England to forge a life in Brussels. But as a man, William has freedom of action, and as a writer Brontë is correspondingly liberated, exploring the relationship between power and sexual desire.
William's first person narration reveals his attraction to the dominating directress of the girls' school where he teaches, played out in the school's 'secret garden'. Balanced against this is his more temperate relationship with one of his pupils, Frances Henri, in which mastery and submission interplay. The Professor was published only after Charlotte Brontës death; today it gives us a fascinating insight into the first stirrings of her supreme creative imagination.

What is your favourite Charlotte Brontë novel?

1 comment:

  1. This was an interesting post. I was unaware of some of the history of this author.

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