Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Girl with a Pen: Charlotte Brontë, Elisabeth Kyle has restricted her story of Brontë’s life to the period between her seventeenth and thirty-first years. In so doing, she focuses on the time when Brontë was attempting to discover what her life’s work would be. Kyle demonstrates how, in her efforts to prepare for teaching, Brontë actually became a writer. The book is divided into three sections, each exploring one aspect of Brontë’s artistic development.

In part 1, “Charlotte at Home,” Kyle covers the years from 1833 to 1841 and introduces the other members of the Brontë family. She builds interest in the first chapter by showing her subject rejecting a marriage proposal in favor of becoming a governess. By the end of this section, Brontë has recognized that her lack of formal training stands in the way of a good teaching position, and she has decided to go to Belgium to study French. By showing Brontë at home with her family in the parsonage, Kyle is able to emphasize both the isolation of Haworth village and the wild beauty of the Yorkshire moors. Both elements helped to shape the fiction that Brontë would produce in later years.

Part 2 chronicles Brontë’s adventures abroad during the period from 1842 to 1843. Kyle’s detailed version of these two years contrasts with her less specific account of Brontë’s earlier life at home. Brontë made use of her Belgian experience in two novels, demonstrating that...

(The entire section is 559 words.)