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By Tom Winnifrith (auth.)

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Extra info for A New Life of Charlotte Brontë

Sample text

It is true that the principal work of 1833 for Charlotte was Arthuriana, a collection of six tales and three poems in which Douro 36 A New Life of Charlotte Bronte figures prominently. The narrator of these tales is Lord Charles Wellesley, and fraternal jealousy makes him speak of Douro's increasing dissipation and degeneracy. Douro is harsh to his wife and haughty to others, but as yet, unlike Rogue, not actually corrupt and adulterous. Adultery is, however, a subject to which both Charlotte and Branwell refer to quite lightly, and this may seem odd in view of the fact that they were innocent adolescents who had hardly emerged from their nineteenth-century parsonage.

Mary and Martha's move to Belgium, which pointed the Brontes in the same direction, would seem to have arisen from the same motive - a wish to obtain qualifications for some profession. 1O Very unfortunately little of her correspondence with Charlotte survives. Had more done so we might have seen the Brontes in rather a different light. Certainly her account of the time at Roe Head, concentrating as it does on Charlotte's intellectual attainments, is a great deal more interesting than that of Ellen Nussey which is principally concerned with dress and deportment.

Charlotte's final juvenile work Ashworth (1839-41) is principally notable for the marked change towards realism. Earlier stories, like Julia (1837) and Caroline Vernon (1839), are still recognisably Angrian, with the political struggle between Zamorna and Northangerland and their rivalry over various mistresses being the principal point of interest. When Charlotte went to Roe Head in 1835 Branwell, with time on his hands, had plunged Angria into war. Northangerland had led a rebellion, Zamorna had been cast into exile and Mary Percy had died of a broken heart.

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