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Charlotte Brontë: The Imagination in History$
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Heather Glen

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199272556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199272556.001.0001

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Triumph and Jeopardy: The Shape of Jane Eyre

Triumph and Jeopardy: The Shape of Jane Eyre

(p.50) CHAPTER THREE Triumph and Jeopardy: The Shape of Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë: The Imagination in History

Heather Glen

Oxford University Press

Charlotte Brontë's account of what her first novel was not could serve as a description of her second. Those ‘sudden turns’ denied to William Crimsworth — unearned wealth, a transformative marriage, excessive happiness — are central to Jane Eyre's story. This is no chilly narrative of self-help, but a much more compelling tale of the ‘wild wonderful and thrilling’, the ‘strange, startling and harrowing’; of starvation and destitution, and the glamour of aristocratic life. The awkward abrasiveness of The Professor is here replaced by a passionate directness, ‘more imaginative and poetical’. Indeed, Jane Eyre seems hardly to question its narrator's point of view. It appears that in Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë is deliberately choosing to emphasize the dark underside of that gospel of self-sufficiency which Crimsworth sought to celebrate in his tale of successful self-help.

Keywords:   William Crimsworth, Jane Eyre, narrative, novel, The Professor, starvation, destitution, Charlotte Brontë, self-sufficiency

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