Recently I started reading Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. It’s going to take me some time to read because my mind isn’t used to reading a classic anymore. I am not in college. Therefore, I am not used to reading deep literature anymore. Don’t worry. I busted out one of my Hungary pens and a highlighter. I have a method. I promise. One day I’ll take a picture of a page that I’ve marked up. Anyway, I decided because I don’t want to post about my personal life and I don’t have a book to review that I was going to write a post about Charlotte Bronte.
As I’ve said before that I prefer Bronte over Austen. Austen tends to have a character that’s pretty comedic and Bronte doesn’t do that as much. To put the timeline in perspective, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and Jane Eyre was published in 1847. So that was 34 years. Since we’re talking about the two female authors, let’s talk about feelings. From what I have read, Bronte didn’t like Austen’s writing. She thought there was something missing. Some life. I don’t know if I agree but I see the difference. Austen’s books tie up nicely and Bronte’s seem like there’s still some mess at the end. Like, Jane and Rochester’s life wasn’t perfect at the end of that book. Lizzie and Darcy seemed to tie up nicely. I think that Bronte was implying that life doesn’t end nicely. Which knowing of her life, makes sense. And for the record everything that we know of how Bronte felt about Austen is from her correspondence from George Henry Lewes. Austen did not read any of Bronte’s work because Austen died when Charlotte was a year old.
Charlotte was born in 1816 and went to a boarding like school with a couple of her sisters when she was young. This school is what she based the school that Jane went to and Charlotte did lose 2 of her sisters at school. When she was old enough she did become a governess for a few years and create relations that she held on to. But what I always am interested in is post governess work.
It’s no secret that Charlotte and her sisters used pseudonyms when they first started writing and used masculine names. Charlotte was Curror Bell. Being a woman and a published author wasn’t great. There was still a stigma about being a female author if you were a female and could get published. Jane Eyre was the first published second wrote after The Professor.
Bronte did get married to this guy named Arthur Bell Nicholls who had been in love with her for a while and her father’s curate. Her father didn’t approve because Nicholls was dirt poor. She died in 1855 in childbirth. Her death certificate says phthisis which is another name for Tuberculosis. She may have died of typhus that she caught from a servant or she may have died from dehydration and malnutrition because she vomited so much during morning sickness. Which is so interesting to me. I don’t know of anyone who’s come to death because of the side effects of morning sickness. I don’t even think of it. No one I’ve known has gotten that bad. But it depends on what time period you come from or where you live at in the world that would make the difference.
Back to literature. Bronte had a lot of female characters that were way more independent than others. I think they were before their time. Like Jane marrying Rochester on her terms and when she was financially secure was beyond the time. That’s not generally how it worked. She was also good at being dark and writing gothic novels. They’re not easy books to read all the time but I enjoy them. This was just a quick overview of Bronte. I’ll try to get through Shirley as quick as possible.