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Thursday, 1 August 2013

"Agnes Grey"

Having finished reading "Agnes Grey", I can safely say now that I love the Brontes. This is a quiet book, if one may say so, I find it understandable that it was outshone by "Wuthering heights" by Emily Bronte, the striking, haunting book about a turbulent love that was 1st published in the same volume with "Agnes Grey", and also outshone by "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, whose narrator and protagonist Jane Eyre is similar- both are proud, independent, self-respecting, quiet, introverted, pious, tolerant and more importantly, plain and unattractive. But it should be read 1st as a book by a Bronte- Anne Bronte possesses the powerful voice, passion and strength of her sisters and also has the similar style, themes and concerns that make her a Bronte and mark the contrast to the works by Jane Austen. I was introduced 1st of all to Charlotte with "Jane Eyre", which has been 1 of my favourite books of all time and which has stayed with me since I read it in junior high school. Next came Emily with "Wuthering heights", in January this year. Anybody who admires Charlotte and Emily should not ignore Anne. For the time being, I do not wish to make any comment on Anne in comparison to her elder sisters, until I have finished her other, more famous, book. 
"Agnes Grey" should also be read in comparison to "Jane Eyre", or as a complement to "Jane Eyre". As a whole, "Jane Eyre" is a more remarkable novel, more 'inclusive', more complex, which follows the life of Jane Eyre for many years since she's a child. "Agnes Grey" focuses on the protagonist's life as a governess. Yet in this aspect, it digs deeper, because while Jane Eyre is a lucky governess, Agnes doesn't have such nice pupils. The novel explores the hardship, humiliation and loneliness that she must face, and thus, depicts the harsh conditions and injustices and class snobbery she's forced to endure, through which the reader can visualise a picture of England's society in the 19th century with classes, cruel treatment of governesses in particular and of women in general, mistreatment of animals, and the selfishness, meanness of the moneyed class, and through which one can see Anne's personal experience and understand her views. Therefore "Agnes Grey" should be read for its own values and should be appreciated in its own right. 
More will be said about Anne Bronte when sufficient.

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