A day in the woods

A day in the woods

A moment when the two main characters of Bronte’s less well known novel get to know each other.  Shirley, newly arrived, proposes a day in the woods to Caroline, who knows the land and the calendar of its changes in minute detail, a mental map she is happy to...
Unsullied attitude

Unsullied attitude

Shirley is among the less known works of Charlotte Bronte.  At a time when women had considerably fewer options in deploying their energies and talents, Shirley is a strong character with attitude and resources.   I loved the ‘Pah to all that’ feeling in...
Life-giving elixir

Life-giving elixir

As often happens in 19th century literature and no doubt in reality, freedom could come to women with access to some kind of economic independence, however modest. In a world where jobs were limited (and often galling or exhausting in their nature), this could be in...
Frantic or free?

Frantic or free?

One of the most powerful ripostes to any attempt at ensnarement or wing-clipping, there is something timeless and transcendent in Jane Eyre’s clarity.  Mr. Rochester tries to bind her to him but soon learns that nothing will drive her away faster. ‘Jane,...

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