Posted by: gypsytales | April 29, 2009


AGNES GREY by Anne Brontë

I give a brief account of the history and culture during the 1800’s in my book review of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.

Anges Grey was Anne Brontë’s first novel, published in 1847.  It is believed that the inspiration for the story was based on her personal experiences as a governess.

Anne Brontë writes an account of Agnes Grey, the youngest of two daughters, whose mother was deprived of a wealthy inheritance when she married a humble clergyman.  After her father makes a poor financial decision the family finds themselves on the brink of destitution.  Agnes, about 18 years old at the time, is determined to contribute to the betterment of the situation by seeking employment as a governess.

Her assignments were demanding and challenging.  Inexperienced in matters pertaining to life and child rearing she pursues the unenviable task of tutoring obstreperous children belonging to apathetic parents of affluence.

In comparrison to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall I found Agnes Grey to be a weaker novel.  While other commentaries have empathised with Agnes’ plight and portrayed her as a gentle, warm and generous character, my interpretation of Agnes was rather the contrary. 

Agnes felt her virtues were of a higher quality than that of her employers and their children – pious.  She was loathe to condescend to their conversations and society – arrogant.  She remained aloof and inwardly critical of her subjects personal interests – proud & judgemental.  She became  sullen when she wasn’t acknowledged or when she would have to sit in the corner of the carriage – self pity.

Many writers during that period had a tremendous ability to manipulate the English language to great affect and Anne Brontë was no exception.  So while I personally found the lead character of her book struggling from an inflated ego, I nonetheless enjoyed the writer’s influence that denied the reader ambivalence.


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