The Brontë sisters were attacked by many Victorian readers because their ‘mode of writing and thinking was not what is called “feminine” ’.1 (The names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell deceived no one for long.) If we compare their women characters with those of Dickens, or glance at Mrs Ellis’s handbooks for women published a few years earlier,2 we can easily see why. Women were not supposed to feel or show violent emotions, or to fall in love without encouragement, or to defy men, and Brontë heroines do all these things. Even in Charlotte’s unimpassioned first novel, The Professor, there is a flicker of female resistance:


Female Resistance Violent Emotion Woman Character Rough Diamond Diamond Chain 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Phyllis Bentley (ed.), The Professor, Tales from Angria, etc. (London, 1954), pp. 383–8.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    J. A. V. Chapple and Arthur Pollard (eds), The Letters of Mrs Gaskell (Manchester, 1966), Letter 191.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë (London, 1857), Vol. 1, Ch. 14.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    T. J. Wise and J. A. Symington (eds), The Brontes. Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence (Oxford, 1932 ), Vol. 2, pp. 215–16.Google Scholar

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© Merryn Williams 1984

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  • Merryn Williams

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