Anne Brontë died in 1848, having written two novels, Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). Although these novels, especially The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, initially received a favourable critical response, the unsympathetic remarks of Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell initiated a dismissive attitude towards Anne Brontë’s work. For over a hundred years, she was marginalized and silenced by a critical world that admired and respected the work of her two sisters, Charlotte and Emily, but that refused to acknowledge the substantial merits of her own fiction. However, in 1959 revisionist scholars such as Derek Stanford, Ada Harrison and Winifred Gérin, offered important, more enlightened readings that helped to liberate Brontë scholarship from the old conservatisms and to direct it into new directions. Since then, her fiction has been the focus of a robust, but still incomplete, revisionist critical scholarship. My work too is revisionist in orientation, and seeks to position itself within this revisionist approach. It has a double focus that appraises both Brontë’s social commentary and her narratology. It thus integrates two principal areas of enquiry: firstly, an investigation into how Brontë interrogates the position of middle class women in their society, and secondly, an examination of how that interrogation is conveyed by her creative deployment of narrative techniques, especially by her awareness of the rich potential of the first person narrative voice. Chapter 1 looks at the critical response to Brontë’s fiction from 1847 to the present, and shows how the revisionist readings of 1959 were pivotal in re-invigorating the critical approach to her work. Chapter 2 contextualizes the key legal, social, and economic consequences of Victorian patriarchy that so angered and frustrated feminist thinkers and writers such as Brontë. The chapter also demonstrates the extent to which a number of her core concerns relating to Victorian society and the status of women are reflected in her work. In Chapter 3 I discuss three important biographical influences on Brontë: her family, her painful experiences as a governess, and her reading history. Chapter 4 contains a detailed analysis of Agnes Grey, which includes an exploration of the narrative devices that help to reinforce its core concerns. Chapter 5 focuses on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, showing how the novel offers a richer and more sophisticated analysis of feminist concerns than those that are explored in Agnes Grey. These are broadened to include an investigation of the lives of married women, particularly those trapped in abusive marriages. The chapter also stresses Brontë’s skilful deployment of an intricate and layered narrative technique. The conclusion points to the ways in which my study participates in and extends the current revisionist trend and suggests some aspects of Brontë’s work that would reward further critical attention.
Myburgh, J. Albert(AOSIS Open Journals, 2017-08-31)
In Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, illness and death cause characters to foresee, fear and
react to other characters’ deaths. In this article, I explore the significance of Cathy’s anticipatory
mourning of, and response ...
In this article I explore the idea expressed by philosophers and social geographers
such as Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, and Henk van Houtum that “space” is a social
construct; that the space in which a society exists ...