The Governess in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

M. Jeanne Peterson (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Victorian Governess: Status Incongruence in Family and Society,” in Victorian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, September, 1970, pp. 7-26.

[In the following essay, Peterson considers the role of the governess within the Victorian middle-class family, focusing primarily on the incongruencies inherent in the notion of “employed gentlewoman.”]

The governess is a familiar figure to the reader of victorian novels. Immortalized in Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, she has made frequent appearances as the heroine of many lesser-known novels. And innumerable governesses appear as little more than a standard furnishing in many a fictional Victorian home....

(The entire section is 8672 words.)

Kathryn Hughes (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Perfect Treadmill of Learning,” in The Victorian Governess, The Hambledon Press, 1993, pp. 55-84.

[In the following essay, Hughes provides an overview of governess life, discussing the oftentimes tumultuous relationship between the governess and the mother, the bond a governess might share with her students, and the typical subjects a governess was expected to teach.]

We had eight hours a day of lessons, and sometimes even more, getting up at six o'clock, summer and winter, and commencing work at seven … [it was] a perfect treadmill of learning.

Georgiana Sitwell, recalling her schoolroom of 1834...

(The entire section is 13281 words.)