Charlotte Bronte: An Independent Will Traces Her Journey As A Writer

Charlotte Bronte: An Independent Will Traces Her Journey As A Writer

Photo courtesy of Art Summary  A photo of the exhibition.

Photo courtesy of Art Summary
A photo of the exhibition.

Jane Eyre is a book that is adored by readers for the character’s warm heart and spirit of independence. The manuscript of Jane Eyre is currently on view for the first time in America at the Morgan Library and Museum. The Morgan Library and Museum is known for its vast collection of books and manuscripts. In celebration of the two-hundred year anniversary of the birth of the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontё, the museum organized an exhibition called “Charlotte Brontё: An Independent Will.” The exhibition gives the public a chance to examine Brontё’s sisters’ lives through the letters, drawings, and manuscripts that are put on display. Above all, the exhibition draws attention to the social limits put on women writers in the 19th century and the extraordinary passion and effort that enabled the Brontё sisters to overcome the barrier.

The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to featuring the Brontё sisters’ creativity during their childhood. From an early age, Charlotte, Emily, and Ann Brontё wrote their own stories and poems. The sisters also practiced drawing by copying other painters’ work. Charlotte wrote her stories with miniscule handwriting that can only be legible with a magnifying glass. She did this because she wanted it to be secretive and she was trying to imitate the font of published books. These stories that she wrote exemplified Charlotte Brontё’s aspiration to become a professional writer in her future.

Photo courtesy of The Morgan  Entrance of the Morgan Library and Museum.

Photo courtesy of The Morgan
Entrance of the Morgan Library and Museum.

The second part of the exhibition showcased the letters Charlotte Brontё wrote when she studied in Brussels to become a teacher. At that time, the only professional options that were available for single women was becoming a teacher or a governess. The letters indicated that she was dissatisfied with spending the rest of her life as a governess. Thus, the Brontё sisters tried to set up their own school for women, but this plan ultimately failed.

Not giving up her hope to become a writer, Charlotte sent her manuscript of Jane Eyre to a publishing company called Smith, Elder & Co. She used a male pseudonym, Currer Bell, in fear that if people knew this book was written by a woman, it would not be taken seriously. With the name Currer Bell, the book became a huge success and drew curiosity about the author. She eventually wrote a letter to her publisher, Mr. Smith, revealing her true identity. This proves that she wanted to defy the social restrictions put on women at that time. The use of the pseudonym demonstrates how hard it was for women to be accepted in the literary circle. This exhibition highlights Charlotte Brontё as a great writer who defied the false assumptions made about her gender in the 19th century.

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