Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte

All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Whether this be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge; I sometimes think it might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others, but the world may judge for itself: shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture, and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend.

Agnes Grey is by Anne Bronte, the lesser known of the three Bronte sisters. The title character of the story is the younger daughter of a poor clergyman’s family. Agnes decides to become a governess to help supplement her family’s income (Anne Bronte drew from her own experiences as a governess.) But Agnes finds it more difficult then she thought, first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children, and then with the condescending Murrays. But she finds kindness and, inevitably, love, with the young curate Weston. Much like Jane Eyre and to some extent Wuthering Heights, the man who the heroine falls in love is not handsome, but has other redeeming characteristics. I truly enjoyed the two main characters in Agnes Grey, Weston and Agnes. The Murray family (sorry Kenzie) are really the epitome of the snobby British upper class; they try to be “kind”, but they look down on everybody poorer than them. Agnes Grey is one woman’s story, but it is also a very realistic portrait of class in Britain at that time. That said, I found it at times quite overwritten, when Agnes would reflect on this and that. But you have to expect that from most nineteenth century novels. And Agnes Grey could be quite infuriating at times, just reading about the stupidity and inconsiderateness of the two families that Agnes works for. They just can’t seem to realize that the lower class are people with feelings too. Even now, there is still an element of that in Britain, though of course much reduced. And I’m sure not everyone even in that time period, were like the Murrays (Weston, for example.)

Read Agnes Gray:
  • if you want to read a book about class in Britain
  • if you enjoyed Charlotte or Emily Bronte and want to read Anne Bronte
115 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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