English Lamp Posts Top Victorian Blog Award Winner 2011

Brought to you by English Lamp Posts

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bronte in Brussels

Juliet Barker has called Villette Charlotte Bronte's "most autobiographical novel," based on Bronte's experiences in Brussels in 1842-43.  After two stints as a governess, Charlotte embarked on a journey with her sister Emily to Brussels with the plan of receiving training in running a school and opening up their own establishment in England.  The journey took Charlotte to London for the first time before arriving in Brussels, where she and Emily would teach at the Pensionnat of Madame and M. Constantin Heger, whom Charlotte described as "choleric and irritable as to temperament," though a very wise and religious teacher of French language and literature.  The school of 80-100 young girls was situated in a large old mansion in the Rue d'Isabelle.  Though the Brontes knew little French and kept mostly to themselves, they enjoyed teaching much better than the time spent as governesses.  Their stay in Brussels, however, was interrupted after the death of an aunt, upon which they returned to England.  Though Charlotte returned to Brussels after nearly three months, Emily refused to leave home again.  Charlotte did not enjoy her return to Brussels without Emily, having no one with which to socialize.  She left Brussels again within a year.

Charlotte was not a woman that had many suitors during her lifetime.  Still, she apparently was attracted to M. Heger and he to her, as their correspondence after her final departure reveals.  Barker places Charlotte's attraction as a motive for her return to England.  Nevertheless, Heger was instrumental in harnessing Charlotte's writing style.  Having an obsessive eye for detail, Heger condemned to a flow of words without a clear objective.  He forced Charlotte to disclipline her runaway imagination.

Sources:   The Brontes by Juliet Barker
Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails