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Thread: Agnes Grey between the lines

  1. #1
    CS
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    Agnes Grey between the lines

    Poor Anne Bronte is always overshadowed by her sisters but she was truly great in her own right. Agnes Grey is a beautiful, touching story. One must read between the lines to truly appreaciate it, to sense Agnes's longing that tortured her so and tortured her all the more because she could speak of it to no one. The book is also an outcry on the pitiful, servile position of the governess in the 19th century. Relevant today? Oh yes. How many of us love and suffer in silence, how many of us, even in today's world as modern women find ourselves maltreated in the workplace and unable at times to do anything about it? That Agnes' story has a happy ending is perhaps conventional, yet, it makes me wish Anne's own short life had ended as well. And also. Who knows what secret pain Anne carried? It must have been there or else she would not have been able to write so moving a book as Agnes Grey.

  2. #2
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    I entirely emphasize with your sentiments, CS. I find all of the Brontė sisters absolutely admirable, though, as you mentioned, poor Anne gets sometimes shadowed by the great fame of her two elder sisters, Emily and Charlotte.
    Agnes Grey I remember reading years ago, and I found it an exceptionally excellent novel worthy of much more praise than it received. Anne Brontė's style, to me, seems very similar to Charlotte's, while Emily had a very unique rhetoric of her own. One, surely, could never bring a 'quality vs. quantity' argument, since Emily, herself, lived a very short life, writing one amazing novel (Wuthering Heights, and as Anne wrote two, and Charlotte, I think, four (Jane Eyre, Villette, The Professor, and Shirley).
    Sad, I just noticed, that I cannot even write a thread of Anne Brontė without comparing her to her sisters. All three wrote amazingly, but, as you said, CP, the fame shows a great imbalance, with the exception of the book of poetry they wrote together, under different names.

  3. #3
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    Agnes Grey

    This is a little superficial, but its amazing how Agnes
    Grey reads like some of my wife's experiences working in
    a daycare. We had quite a laugh together when I read some
    passages to her. One is given the responsibility to do a job
    but little authority. Agnes Grey captures the frustration of this kind of situation perfectly.


    Scott
    Last edited by Scott; 07-12-2005 at 10:15 PM. Reason: needed to write the title in italics

  4. #4
    Registered User Cien's Avatar
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    I have a close friend who is one of those people who seems to have read everything I ask him about. He's a professor, rather amazingly educated. However, I asked him if he'd ever read Agnes Grey -- and he'd never even heard of it. I was astounded (and he felt silly for not knowing of it). But it really does show me how, and now I'm just repeating what has already been said here, Anne Bronte basically got the leftovers of her sisters when it comes to reputation and fame. I can't actually compare her to her sisters at all because I've never read anything by Charlotte, and the last time I read Wuthering Heights was years ago; I don't remember a bit of it. I now feel rather lucky that I'm able to read Anne's writing without having her sisters' books in mind.

    Agnes Grey itself is quite lovely so far. The narrator's voice is intelligent without being "impressive", and I read her as somebody genuine. Basically, a person I would like to be friends with. This is a story I enjoy.
    Last edited by Cien; 01-22-2007 at 11:44 AM.

  5. #5
    laudator temporis acti andave_ya's Avatar
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    Yep, yep, I agree with you all wholeheartedly. I was very pleasantly surprised to find Agnes Grey such a lovely book and wondered why doesn't she get more acclaim? Perhaps her work isn't as dark as Charlotte's but it is certaintly deserving of as much praise.
    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
    Of cabbages--and kings--
    And why the sea is boiling hot--
    And whether pigs have wings."

  6. #6
    Bibliomaniac Guinivere's Avatar
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    I think it lacks public appreciation because lots of people look for strong emotions in a novel.

    And Agnes is such a gentle and kind character. Even when she strongly feels neglect and confusion she still does no harm to anybody.
    My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.

    People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
    Logan Pearsall Smith, 1931

  7. #7
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    Agnes relates to lots of people today, and the outcome of the story, I think, is what captivates these people. I always love books with a happy ending that I can relate to.
    As other commentors have said, you can see the suffering of Anne quite plainly. In the introduction of my copy of Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte (secretly, of course) loved (or so it was suspected) a curate, who relates to Mr Weston. However, unlike Agnes, she doesn't have a 'Happy Ever After'.

    With this knowledge, as I said before, suffering is quite plain.
    I'm done, :P
    "And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude and many associates, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire."


    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

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