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Life of Charlotte Bronte

With a new kind of heroine defiantly virtuous, morally courageous and fiercely independent, Charlotte Bronte brought about change in the style of fiction of the day, presenting an unconventional woman to be admired for her ability to overcome adversity. From her humble beginnings as an orphan under the care of a cruel aunt, governess Jane Eyre falls in love with her mercurial employer, the Byronic Edward Rochester. But then dark secrets of Thornfield Hall threaten to destroy everything she‟s worked so hard to achieve. First published under her pseudonym Currer Bell, Charlotte‟s famous Gothic romance attracted much public attention. People wanted to know who this new and talented writer was. It was highly lauded by such authors as William Makepeace Thackeray, and has since inspired numerous adaptations for television and film, and numerous other author‟s works including Jean Rhys‟ „prequel‟ Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). Growing up in Victorian England, Charlotte and her sisters were inspired by the Romantic authors of the time including Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth and Lord George Gordon Byron. As sisters and authors, Charlotte, Emily and Anne gave each other moral support, shared creative ideas and proof-read one another‟s work. As the oldest of the Bronte authors, Charlotte approached her writing career as a means to financial independence and to help support her siblings. She was born on 21 April 1816, at 74 Market Street in the village of Thornton near Bradford in Yorkshire County, England. She was the third daughter born to Maria Branwell (1783-1821) and Anglican clergyman of Irish descent Patrick Bronte (1777-1861). At the time Charlotte was born she had two older sisters, Maria (1814-1825) and Elizabeth (1815-1825), but as was typical of the time mortality rates were high and they both would not live to see their teenage years. Charlotte‟s other siblings were; younger brother Patrick Branwell “Branwell” (1817-1848), himself a Byronic figure; Emily Jane (1818-1848); and Anne (1820-1849).

not weak or impressionable females. as well as other romantic authors of the time. and was not considered a living or rational being except in connection with the wearisome duties she was forced to perform (Gilbert and Gubar. Chap V). Slight in size. who by appearances and her standard of living epitomized the nineteenth-century feminist. however. While many children of the time spent their leisure in such pursuits. could hamper her burgeoning emotions. and was perceived as a mother figure to her surviving siblings. who took an early interest in politics. spawned by the works of Sir Walter Scott. was self-taught by reading the newspapers her father left lying about. . plagued often by illness. The Brontë children were all avid readers. She often likened herself to others in her oppressed situation. and strong moral character. it was Brontës suppressed spirit that gave way to her literary fantasies. she knew more about politics than most grown men. the same traits Charlotte herself possessed. To refer to Charlotte Brontë as a feminist would. the ugly daughter or poor spinster. Such were no ordinary games of make believe. not even a stringent society. She resigned to live in the role society placed upon her. no matter his status or fortune. The options for the proper yet impoverished woman during the time were limited a governess or teacher. particularly Charlotte. at times with the aide of wooden toys. other times in provisional costumes. as well. perpetually modest. She believed that a governess had no existence. and since they were isolated children. Charlotte Brontë was progressive in her beliefs. figures of strength throughout history: Bonaparte. Charlotte was an intelligent youth. Marriage was always a viable solution. In a time when women were considered little more than social adornments and bearers of offspring. Unlike George Sand. well-written dramas. intellect. solely on her own accord. Caesar. It was the archetypical male hero who interested the girls. it was the manner in which the girls specifically played that provides insight into the strength of their spirit. did not interested Charlotte. Her novels speak volumes for the oppressed woman. It was through her words that Charlotte Brontë created a woman of free thought. It was a dreary existence on the Yorkshire moors for the Brontë children. which she equated to slaves imprisoned by circumstances beyond their control. and desolation. thus establishing Charlotte Brontë as one of the first modern women of her time.Modern Woman in Jane Eyre Without a doubt. Charlotte Brontë bravely contradicted society through her writing. yet no one. who was mature beyond her years. It was during these imaginative dramas that the girls portrayed legendry figures. roles Charlotte Brontë considered forms of bondage. Charlotte Brontë withdrew from a society that would not entirely accept her. and the Duke of Wellington (Gaskell. Even female historical figures who appeared strong. Her interest. By the age of nine. and expressed her stifled ideals through her words. Spurred by their vivid imaginations. they frequently retreated into a world of literary fantasy. Hannibal. but elaborate. 347-51). for Cleopatra used her sexuality to attain greatness. death. such as Cleopatra. be an insufferable misrepresentation. yet Charlotte Brontë would only marry a man she respected. the children invented role-playing games.

Charlotte Brontë wrote that imagination was a restless faculty which needed to be heard and exercised. if non-existence during Charlotte Brontës time. "Are we to be quite deaf to her cry and insensate to her struggles?" (Gaskell. status. Charlotte Brontë urged women not to linger on such problems. modest. however. Charlotte had the freedom to create her characters the way she wanted. 18). deep-rooted within the structure of the social system (Moers. in all respects plain. Like Jane. Such feelings were typically concealed beneath a stoic exterior. morally strong and intelligent. and spiritual self. a fate she deemed worse than death. who. 18). For Charlotte Brontë. Brontë exhibits resentment toward a society that has scorned her. Through Jane. It was through her discontent that the characters of Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe were born. In the character Jane. Charlotte herself was determined to marry a man she respected. It is a fact that woman authors during the time were not received as seriously as men. she created heroines with genuine ideas and erudite views. emotional. Nothing can tempt Jane in this respect: wealth. The more solitary. I care for myself. Jane's isolation created her persona. the more I will respect myself (301). like any decent man. she will not sacrifice herself. Concealed by anonymity. above all. arguably Charlotte Brontë's tour de forceintermibles autobiographical elements with romantic notions of the period. It is imperative to her to remain true to herself. instead. and werent afraid to declare it. Charlotte Brontë withdrew into the world she created. In fact. Charlotte Brontë spoke of the evils of the condition of women. 347-51). Like the author. suppressing the creative. or rather she felt them intellectually and morally deficient. simply because the offers did not come from men she deemed her equal. However. Jane Eyre. providing her with the necessary survival skills. she carries her self-worth in her mind and determination. and criticized women who resorted to this female characteristic as lacking self-respect. Charlotte Brontë created a slight woman. In essence. Chap II). A woman who revealed an independent spirit was rare. Jane does not need a man to make her feel worthy. it was the ideal emotional outlet. respected themselves. as Currier Bell. not the label or profits derived from it. though the literary world must be grateful she did not heed her own advice. Such suppression had dangerous consequences an unhappy. the more unsustained I am. Charlotte rejected the use of sexuality to attract men in any form. She believed that a good woman. Jane will not sacrifice her morals or self-respect for any man. she refused several offers of marriage that would have afforded her a life of ease. It was through her writing that she was allowed to breathe life into her suppressed self and dreams. It was Charlotte who provided the noms de plume that were deliberately ambiguous in gender for her and her sisters (Gilbert and Guber. she embraces the notion of love itself. unfulfilled life.instead of achieving it on her own. or love. When Jane ultimately falls in love. could not live . while maintaining a detachment toward humanity as a whole (Moers. the more friendless.

one of the most altruistic. No real woman would create a character as unseemly as Jane Eyre. violated human code. December 1848). who relied upon the respect of themselves. is instead pure flesh and blood. is not a real woman. dashing. She believed passion a temporary emotion that could easily give way to disgust. and that the character of Jane was destitute of all attractive. A governess. and her onesided love for a married professor. At the time. Brontë created a hero much like that of other literary heroes of the day: rich. honest. and herself alone. and is based instead on mutual respect and love. and together they form a bond of mutual respect. Through her characters. "God help the woman who is left to love passionately and alone" (Gaskell. Paul Emmanuel lacks all romance. In Rochester. and humanly flawed. through his flaws. In Villette. indifference. Indeed the portrait is similar to the character of Jane Eyre &mdas. a woman determined to make her own way. Instead of creating a romantic portrait filled with passion and childish love. to provide fulfillment in their lives. Jane Eyre was considered a radical book that deposed authority. a more mature author created the antithesis of the literary hero. Currier Bell was thus believed to be a man. rather than society. if she did. With Lucy. Rochester can only offer himself. Lucy recognizes a generous soul. wrote of simple women. Brontë gave the gift of the modern woman. and live her life by her own set of standards. but a burden to society. . Brontë takes her unrequited love in stride and creates Lucy Snowe. Charlotte draws directly from her earlier days in Brussels. and fostered rebellion and Chartism in the homes of society. feminine qualities. without the assistance of men. or worse. Yet in Villette. social position and recondite intellectual acquisitions are compared to third-class lodgers (58). and romantic. Jane returns to Rochester and finally offers her unconditional love to him when he essentially has nothing left. in her subtlety. Chap IX). Brontë. pedigree. or rather enlightening them to the fact that women of self-respect and intellect can seek their place in the world. adding to the gothic style of the novel. Brontë is reminding her readers.without self-respect. even the heroes of the novels. Blind and penniless. the reviewer reminds her reader. she has "long forfeited the society of her own sex" (Ridgy. who had no concept of the role of women in society. Yet. A reviewer in The London Quarterly Review stated thatJane Eyre was the personification of an unregenerate and undisciplined spirit. and independent heroines in English Literature. dictated not by society but by herself. both heroines' intelligence and moral judgment is superior to those around them. proving that for Brontë love transcends the societal expectations of marriage.

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