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The Professor


The Professor


“And your heart is broken?”
“I am not aware that it is; it feels all right – beats as usual...”

Charlotte Brontë’s blazingly intelligent women brimming with hidden passions would transform English literature. Yet, in her very first novel, The Professor, she audaciously inhabits the voice and consciousness of a man, William Crimsworth.

Told from Crimsworth’s point of view, (the only male narrator that she ever used), the work formulated a new aesthetic that questioned many of the presuppositions of Victorian society.

Like Jane Eyre Crimsworth is parentless; like Lucy Snowe in Villette he leaves the certainties of England to forge a life in Brussels.

But—as a man—William has freedom of action; and as a writer, Brontë is correspondingly liberated, as she explores the relationship between power and sexual desire.

Brontë's hero escapes from a humiliating clerkship in a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium, where he falls in love with an impoverished student-teacher, who is perhaps the author's most realistic feminist heroine.

"The middle and latter portion of The Professor is as good as I can write," proclaimed Brontë. "It contains more pith, more substance, more reality, in my judgment, than much of Jane Eyre."

Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels have become classics of English literature. Charlotte Brontë famously lived her entire life in an isolated parsonage on a remote English moor with a demanding father and siblings whose astonishing childhood creativity was a closely held secret. She first published her works (including her best known novel, Jane Eyre) under the pen name Currer Bell.

“At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Bronte.”

—Virginia Woolf



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