Charlotte Brontë was always concerned that her work be judged on its own merits and not because of her gender. She continued to use her pseudonym even after her authorship was revealed, and in her letters she often referred to herself as Currer Bell. Jane Eyre, her first published novel, has been called feminine because of the Romanticism and deeply felt emotions of the heroine-narrator. It would probably be more correct to point to the feminist qualities of the novel, as reflected in a heroine who refuses to be placed in the traditional female position of subservience and who disagrees with her superiors, stands up for her rights, and ventures creative thoughts. More important, Jane is a narrator who comments on the role of women in society and the greater constraint imposed on them. Those feminine emotions often ascribed to in the character of Jane are found as well in Rochester, and the continued popularity of this work must suggest the enduring human quality of these emotions.
Brontë often discusses the lack of passion in her contemporaries’ work and especially in that of Jane Austen, about whom she said, “Her business is not half so much with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, hands, and feet.” Coldness, detachment, excessive analysis, and critical distance were not valued by Brontë. The artist must be involved in her subject, she believed, and must have a degree of inspiration not to be rationally explained. Such a...
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